Hospitality Today Christmas 2016 - Jan 2017 - Page 5

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The Wheatsheaf in Rutland ( above ) suffered severe fire and smoke damage after a blaze was caused by selfcombusting tea towels . After interrupting the tumble-drying cycle of tea towels the tenant left a number of very warm tea towels in the bottom of the dryer drum . The first floor was ablaze 90 minutes later , and the public house masked in smoke resulting in the business being closed for over six months . The Unicorn ’ s Head Pub in Langar , Nottinghamshire also suffered fire damage in 2015 so extensive that restoration regulation complications arising from the building being listed caused the business to remain closed for over 12 months . Tenants at the pub had soaked dirty tea towels in a stain remover ahead of washing them the next day , unknowing that the remains of fat mixed with the detergent chemical peroxide could cause self-combustion . After being woken at 5am by smouldering and smoke , and being unable to locate the source , the couple evacuated the pub only to watch it go up in flames moments later . Forensics at the scene found the likely cause of the blaze to be the self-combusting tea towels . Darren Seward continued : “ People are becoming more aware of the fire risks associated with faulty household
appliances or leaving appliances such as tumble dryers on overnight , but the danger of self-combusting tea towels is a worrisome fire hazard that very few people are aware of . “ These incidents are relatively common and have caused a number of businesses to close completely for long periods of time due to the extent of the fire damage . It ’ s extremely important for companies to check that they are protected with adequate business interruption insurance cover for the full reinstatement time , providing financial peace of mind to owners should the worst occur .
“ To help prevent the issue , tea towels and cloths in pub and restaurant kitchens should be washed at high temperatures to try to ensure that oils are completely removed . If the towels are dried in a tumble drier ( particularly if they have been washed in a low temperature wash ) it is important that the cycle is allowed to run to the end including the cool down cycle and that the towels are removed immediately and left to air rather than being folded or placed in a bag .
“ People should also be wary that soaking tea towels in a stain remover and not washing immediately might also carry the risk of self-heating .”