NewsPinellas County


Clogged dryer vent blamed for Clearwater home fire

Posted at 5:06 PM, Feb 14, 2019

CLEARWATER, Fla. — A woman in Clearwater lost everything in a fire that officials say started with her dryer.

“My dryer was on fire. That’s all I know," said Melody Snow.

The call came in shortly after 10:30 p.m Wednesday night.

“I’m just very thankful that she made it out alive," said her daughter Holly Knutson.

Even Snow's dentures are gone.

“Gonna cost me an arm and a leg to get those back.”

The National Fire Protection Association says thousands of home fires are caused by dryers each year.

A big part of that is keeping the vent clear of the sometimes flammable lint that builds up over time.

Clive McLaughlin is known as The Lint Man. He’s spent decades cleaning out vents around Tampa Bay using a brush at the end of a flexible pole that reaches all the way to the roof.

“As you can see the brush has dislodged all this lint, from the pipe,” McLaughlin said.

You can usually tell the vent needs to be cleaned when it takes longer to dry clothes.

One spark and you could end up in a situation like Melody.

“Once it catches fire and your lint pipe has got a lot of lint like that, that vent pipe is going to just ignite," said McLaughlin.

Melody didn’t have rental insurance for her belongings, but does have daughters she can stay with.

“I just have to take one step forward every day and rebuild.”

You can call a service like the The Lint Man to get the vent cleaning done. Or you can buy the tools to do it yourself.

The home in the Japanese Gardens Mobile Home Park is a total loss, officials say. The intense heat even damaged two nearby homes.