Rockland, ME – Fire sprinkler controls dryer fire at assisted living facility

Rockland’s fire chief said a fire that broke out Monday night at the Woodlands Memory Care facility shows the importance of a sprinkler and alarm system.

The fire at the Camden Street facility was one of two fire calls within five hours of each other early Sept. 29.

The first was at Woodlands, reported to the department at 1:21 a.m.

The caller reported a fire in one of the commercial dryers. Upon arrival, there was smoke coming from the laundry area in the rear of the building. The initial crew was able to rapidly determine the issue was contained to the laundry area and that the smoke and fire was not extending into the occupied portion of the facility, Chief Chris Whytock said.

The Woodlands staff moved all residents to their “shelter in place” areas.

The crew then made entry to the laundry and found a small fire in one of the gas-fired commercial dryers, which was being contained by the building sprinkler system. The fire was quickly extinguished and the sprinkler was shut down after determining the fire had not spread from the dryer. The smoke was then cleared from the affected portion of the building and all mutual aid units were sent back to their towns.

Rockland crews remained on scene for a short time removing water from the laundry room and restoring the building alarms systems.

The fire was determined to have been caused by oily cooking towels being in the dryer after washing had not removed all the oil

The chief said the on duty staff at the Woodlands did an excellent job rapidly notifying the fire department and moving their residents to pre-established safety areas.

The sprinkler system contained the fire to the dryer utilizing just one sprinkler head. This coupled with the fire alarm system releasing self-closing doors kept multiple barriers between the smoky fire area and the occupied section of the building just down the hall. Due to the staff, sprinklers, and alarm system no residents were displaced and the incident was concluded in less than one hour.