Mum speaks out after tumble dryer fire in family home

A Staffordshire mum has spoken of her shock following a fire in her family home caused by a tumble dryer which was less than a year old. 

It was a cold December night, we’d just had dinner and were settling in for the evening when our daughter came running down the stairs. She’d seen a spark outside her bedroom door.

Dawn Zambrano, Mum of two

Like many of us, mother-of-two Dawn Zambrano, who lives with her family near Ashbourne on the Staffordshire/Derbyshire border, often left her washing machine, dish-washer and tumble dryer on when she was out, so everything was clean when she returned home. 

But on this occasion, she was thankful she and her husband were in the house when her appliances were on.

She said: “It was a cold December night, we’d just had dinner and were settling in for the evening when our daughter came running down the stairs. 

“She’d seen a spark outside her bedroom door. 

“The power in the house had momentarily gone off just before, but we didn’t clock then that anything was wrong, until we looked in the utility room, which is directly below our daughter’s bedroom.

“It was then that we saw our dryer was completely alight.”

The tumble dryer, which was only 11 months old, was regularly checked and maintained, so Mrs Zambrano couldn’t believe it was this that was responsible for blaze that nearly tore through their entire property. 

“I immediately called my husband, who told us to get out – so I, my daughter Isabella, 16, son Luis, 17, and his girlfriend bundled up our two cats and two dogs before making our way out onto the drive way where I called the fire service,” she said. 

“It felt like forever till the appliance arrived, but thankfully, it wasn’t long at all. 

“However, my husband Martin was still inside, trying to put the fire out himself.

“He suffered really nasty burns on his hands. 

“He still has the scars,” Mrs Zambrano added. 

The fire not only destroyed the utility room, but meant that the boiler in the family home could no longer work, meaning the family were without a home just before Christmas 2019. 

Thankfully, they were able to stay with Mrs Zambrano’s parents for a number of nights before arranging alternative rental accommodation. 

“I’m just so thankful my husband and I were in that evening, because if we’d have been out visiting friends and our children were in the house on their own, I dare not think what could of happened,” she said.

Since the blaze, Mrs Zambrano says she continually warns people about the dangers of over-using their appliances, particularly putting them on and leaving them.

“The fire officers told me at the time that dryers and other appliances of this kind are often the biggest cause of fires in the home, especially in winter when people are using them more regularly,” she added. 

The warning comes as Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service continue its Watts The Danger campaign, highlighting fire safety issues in the home this season. 

Station Manager, Gary Fox, who has previously attended fires caused by such appliances, said: “It is so important that you don’t overload or over-use appliances, how ever old they are. 

“They also must never be left to work while you’re out or left on overnight in order to make sure you’re protecting yourselves and your loved ones from a potentially serious fire.”

Mrs Zambrano said: “I’m just so thankful my daughter spotted that spark when she did, because that moment saved us from an even worse fire than the one we experienced.

“We had a really lucky escape.”

Burnt dryer
The fire tore through the family's utility room
Fire damaged appliances outside
The tumble dryer was less than a year old