Jewish World Review July 4, 2014 / 6 Tammuz, 5774
Being wary of combustible towels
By Celia Rivenbark
But, yes. Now I can add that to the long list of things that keeps me up at night. They're right there across the hall in the linen closet.
Acting all soft and warm and smelling like Gain detergent. But they could combust at any minute. Like California Chrome's owner.
It turns out that towels have caught fire right by themselves "sitting in dryers, while folded in linen closets and even after being shoved into a duffle bag" according to a recent news report.
The Greensboro (N.C.) "News & Record" broke the story after yet another bunch of towels burst into flames in Rockingham County, which considering where I live is akin to "the call is coming from inside the house" levels of scary. Apparently, I live three hours from The Exploding Towels Capital of the World. Now seems like a good time to mention that I also live one hour from the World's Largest Frying Pan (Rose Hill, N.C.), and 90 minutes from the Hog-Calling Capital of the World (Spivey's Corner, N.C.. I believe you can see from all of this that I truly do live in the center of the universe.)
To recap: There have been a bunch of fires in Rockingham County in the past few decades and more than a few of them have been caused by exploding towels, including as recently as this past spring when a rogue towel burst into flames and destroyed a home.
Jay Harris, a fire marshal in Rockingham County, said the trouble seems to result from using a towel to clean up spilled cooking oil.
Do they not have PAPER TOWELS in Rockingham County? No quicker picker upper?
What do they use for toilet paper in Rockingham County? Pillow cases?
But, OK, let's hear him out. Harris says the oil-soaked towel gets tossed into a washer and most detergents aren't strong enough to remove the oil especially if cold water is used. Once out of the washer and dryer, the towel, which often still contains residual oil, is folded and stored, the dryer heat settles into the warm folds, reacts to the excess oil and fast as you can say those famous redneck last words:
"Hey y'all, lookit this!" you've got yourself a gen-u-wine conflageration.
Harris said he's seen towels catch fire DAYS after being used to clean up oil. Wow. It's hard to imagine that a towel stays warm for days but who am I to argue with science?
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