March 29, 2012 | Vol. 42, No. 13

Dryer fire washed out by passerby

Summer worker Peter McDonald didn’t have enough dirty clothes for a wash, but he stopped at the Moose Horn Laundry anyway after arriving back in town on the ferry Monday afternoon.

Tom Morphet photo
Peter McDonald with containers he used to squelch a fire at Moose Horn Laundry.

It was a lucky decision for laundromat owners Jan and Leonard Dubber. McDonald squelched a dryer fire Jan said could have been costly.

“By the time anybody discovered it and called the fire department, it would have been way more damage,” she said. “Unless (flames) were coming out the doors, nobody would have known.”

McDonald walked into the building at 4 p.m. to discover smoke and flames shooting out the door of a large-volume dryer. “I thought I was seeing things. The (fire) was actually growing bigger as I watched it,” he said.

McDonald found a pitcher used for watering plants, and made 15 or more trips to a bathroom sink to douse the bundle of burning clothes.

“Needless to say, I gave him a free wash and dry and I’ll give him the same thing next time I see him,” said Jan Dubber.

The dryer had been posted with a sign warning of loads containing large objects – such as sleeping bags or mattress covers – melting or burning. Due to a possible design flaw, vents inside a certain brand of dryer are sometimes covered by large objects, causing laundry to overheat, Dubber said.

Customers who are in a hurry don’t always notice the signs warning of the overheating hazard, she said. The burned items belonged to a unidentified woman who was doing a friend’s laundry and had left it unattended.

McDonald, 40, has worked the past four summers as a maintenance man at Halsingland Hotel.