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2 fires, 63 minutes

February 8, 2011

Newton Fire Department's resources were strained Monday night after firefighters were called to two structure fires in slightly more than an hour.

Monday's two structure fires in 63 minutes are part of a larger trend this year for Newton Fire Department. Fire Chief Kevin Yoder said structure fires are more common in the winter, but the department has recently noticed more fires occurring on the same day at about the same time.

"When it rains, it pours," Yoder said.

Newton firefighters were called at 8:39 p.m. to a possible structure fire at Family Coin Laundry at 1820 N. Main Ave. in Newton. They arrived on the scene to find smoke coming from one of the business' industrial-size, front-loading dryers and a vent at the top of the building, Yoder said.

The fire started from debris trapped inside the dryer filter.

"Even if those filters are changed at the rate they're supposed to be, a certain amount of debris is still inside," Yoder said, adding that the heat of the industrial dryer caused the debris to catch fire.

He said the fire wasn't caused by the laundromat failing to change its filters regularly.

Three engines, a ladder company and 22 firefighters responded to the Family Coin Laundry fire. Responders were still on the scene when the emergency communications center received a call for a second structure fire at 848 Meadow Lane Drive in Newton off Southwest Boulevard.

Because of Newton's resources, the department "pretty much has to send out everything" when responding to a reported structure fire, Yoder said.

Two engines and one ladder company left Family Coin Laundry to respond to Meadow Lane, and Newton firefighters also called Maiden Fire Department for mutual aid.

Newton Fire Department arrived at Meadow Lane Drive at 9:42 p.m. and discovered a fully involved fire in a outbuilding behind a residence.

Yoder said Newton's firefighters realized they had enough personnel to handle the outbuilding fire, and Maiden Fire Department was re-routed as its men traveled to the scene. Instead of returning to their station, however, Maiden's firefighters stayed at Newton's fire station in case another fire broke out.

The fire at Meadow Lane Drive was under control in about 7 minutes, but the building and its contents were destroyed. The 144-square-foot building was valued at $3,000, and its contents were valued at $1,000.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation. Yoder said there were no power sources to the building. Newton fire investigators are conducting interviews to determine possible causes.

No one was injured in the fires Newton responded to Monday night. Yoder said the fires, although they happened about the same time, are unrelated.

In another incident
One person was sent to the hospital late Monday night after a fire caused by a faulty clothes dryer.

Hickory Fire Department responded to a reported structure fire at 2266 Ninth Ave. Drive NE in Hickory and discovered flames coming from the house.

Firefighters responded initially with two engines, one ladder truck and a command vehicle. Because of the size of the fire, however, an additional engine and rescue truck were also called to the scene.

Damage to the house was estimated at $60,000, and one of the home's occupants was transported to the hospital for observation.

Investigators later determined the fire was caused by a clothes dryer equipment failure.

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