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apartment fireTenants in a 12-unit apartment building in Michigan were forced out of their homes this week when a dryer vent in one of the units sparked a fire in the walls and attic.

According to a news report, six agencies were needed to quell the blaze, and the tenant whose dryer caught fire was forced to spend the night at a Red Cross shelter.

Often overlooked in annual maintenance plans, dryers cause thousands of residential fires in the U.S. each year, the most common reason being failure to clean out the vent. These fires have caused injuries and have cost millions in property damage.

It’s imperative for landlords to regularly check dryer exhaust vent hoses for buildup. Otherwise, lint and dust can get trapped in the ductwork and block airflow. Bends in the vent hoses also can cause serious buildup. These problems can lead to fires.

It’s also a good idea to offer your tenants advice on the proper use of the dryer — a checklist posted in the laundry room or handed out at orientation. For example, it’s important for each tenant to empty the lint trap before each load. Tenants also need to know to never put rubber, plastic, foam or any materials that were in contact with a flammable liquid in the dryer, even if they were recently washed. It is also dangerous to the leave the dryer running while out of the house or sleeping. If something goes wrong, they may not be able to stop it in time.

This is especially important if your dryers are located inside of the tenants’ units because these dryers are more likely to go unchecked.

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