17 January 2023

Spontaneous combustion and hot weather blamed for blaze at Batehaven laundromat

| Katrina Condie
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Fire damage

The fire has been blamed on the spontaneous combustion of towels inside the laundromat. Photo: Moruya Fire and Rescue.

It’s believed the spontaneous combustion of towels caused a blaze that destroyed the Batehaven Drycleaners and Laundromat on Monday night.

NSW Fire and Rescue firefighters were called to the incident in Corrigan Crescent Batehaven at 7:40 pm where the premises was well alight.

Inspector Phillip Eberle said five appliances from Batemans Bay and Moruya, along with three Rural Fire Service crews, took about one hour to extinguish the fire.

“The crews went straight in with breathing apparatuses and attacked the fire from the street and the internal parking lot,” he said.

Adjoining businesses in the complex, including the Batehaven IGA supermarket, were impacted by smoke and water, but the blaze was confined to the laundromat due to the efforts of firefighters.

Insp Eberle said the building was “substantially damaged” and all the nearby businesses were affected in some way.

Building on fire

FRNSW crews from Batemans Bay and Moruya attended the scene on Monday night. Photo: Moruya Fire and Rescue.

There are no suspicious circumstances surrounding the blaze which Insp Eberle has blamed on spontaneous combustion of clothing which occurred due to the “ideal” hot and humid weather conditions on Monday night.

“We have great confidence that the ignition was spontaneous combustion,” he said.

He said this type of fire was “quite common” in businesses like laundromats.

After being dried, warm textiles left in a dryer or in a basket can build up heat, eventually reaching a temperature at which they self-ignite and burst into flames.

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The risk of spontaneous combustion is greatly increased with items such as chefs’ wear, butchers’ aprons and kitchen cloths which may contain oils and greasy residues. Once ignited these residues provide an additional fuel source increasing the intensity and severity of the fire.

Insp Eberle expressed his condolences to the owners and hoped they were able to reopen soon.

Owners Greg and Donna Buttriss had packed up and left the building by 2 pm on Monday and received the call about 7:30 pm that their shop was alight.

Greg said they had washed and dried towels from Braidwood Bakery and left them to cool down in a basket on a table with plans to bag them up the following day.

“It looks like they’ve burst into flames,” he said.

The business

The Batehaven Drycleaners and Laundromat was destroyed by fire on Monday night. Photo: Facebook.

The couple has operated the laundromat for nine years and are hoping to reopen.

They are waiting for their insurance company to complete their assessment before they can make any decisions about the future of the business.

Greg said people with items in the store, including clothing and bedding, should call the shop on 4472 2774 and provide details of their goods as all tickets and contact details were lost in the fire.

Not all items were destroyed, and the drycleaning remains undamaged in a separate premises nearby.

“Thankfully we had minimal stuff there. We just had two weeks off and had only been back a week,” Greg added.

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He said he had heard of spontaneous combustion happening in laundry businesses previously and was “gutted” by the incident.

The IGA supermarket next door is expected to remain closed while repairs are carried out, however the butcher shop is back up and running.

Greg is referring his customers to the nearest laundromat and drycleaners at Ulladulla.

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