Clogged dryer vent caused East Gwillimbury fire that killed 4 Fire Marshal report points to lack of main-floor smoke alarm

CBC News Posted: Aug 13, 2014 9:47 AM ET Last Updated: Aug 13, 2014 10:46 AM ET

A clothes dryer vent clogged with lint started a 2013 fire in East Gwillimbury, Ont., that killed four members of the same family, according to a fire marshal's report released Wednesday. Kevin Dunsmuir, 55, his wife Jennifer, 51, and their sons Robert, 19 and Cameron, 16, died in March of last year after an early-morning fire broke out in their Howard Street home in East Gwillimbury, about 50 kilometres north of Toronto.
Another son, David, 24, is the only remaining member of the immediate family. He was away studying at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ont., at the time of the fire.The report by Fire Marshal Ted Wieclawek pointed to a number of factors in the fire, including:

  • A dryer vent that was clogged with lint, causing the fire.
  • The lack of a main-floor smoke alarm, which delayed the family learning of the fire and calling 911.
  • By the time the second-floor alarm was activated, escape down the central staircase was no longer possible, leaving the family trapped on the second floor.

After the fire, there were questions raised about the fire department's response time and training. Here's how the report addressed that:

  • Response time was not an issue because survival was "untenable" due to the delayed detection.
  • There was no issue of training with the volunteer firefighters who responded.
An earlier fire marshal's report pointed to a compromised security system and the lack of a main-floor smoke alarm as factors in the fire. In releasing his report, the fire marshal said the East Gwillimbury fire highlights the need for families to take the following precautions:
  • Develop and practise a fire escape plan for their home.
  • Identify who will help young people or anyone with physical or cognitive disabilities that may hinder their ability to escape.
  • Install smoke alarms on every floor and test them regularly.

When Did You Last Carry out Dryer Vent Cleaning?

Dryer Vent Cleaning WILL Save You Money Through Lower Utility Costs, and Reduce the Risk of Fire!

Is your dryer taking twice as long to get through one load of laundry? Do you need to do an extra cycle just to get your fabrics dried up and ready for folding? If you answered yes to any of the previous questions, you may have a dirty and clogged dryer vent in your hands which needs professional attention.

Having lint on dryer vents is not unusual. Whenever you use your dryer, lint from the clothes and other fabrics that are being dried is sucked by the fan motor of the dryer and settles on the vent hose outside. As time goes by, the build up gets thicker and this affects your dryers performance.

Dryer Taking a Long Time to Dry Each Load?

Many people think their dryer is just old and that’s why each load takes a long time. However the truth is your dryer vent needs cleaning. Many appliance companies do not offer dryer vent cleaning simply because its not an easy task. Leave this task to the professionals, we clean the vent regardless of its location and always show proof of a successful clean.

Lint Build Up Reduces Your Dryer Efficiency & Increases Your Utility Bills

To give you a general idea, a half an inch of lint build up in a four feet dryer duct can slow down and reduce the efficiency of your dryer by up to half. This will cause your dryer to overwork itself more than the usual, making it run hotter and operate harder. Your dryer will then consume more electricity as it needs more energy to function properly.

Signs That You Need Your Dryer Vent Cleaning

To see if your dryer vent is due for a thorough cleaning, check out the following signs and if any of these is noticeable, set an appointment for professional dryer vent cleaning:

  • It takes longer to dry your clothes each cycle
  • Lint is present on your clothes after drying
  • Your clothes are hotter and/or damper than usual after a standard cycle
  • Your laundry room is more humid or warmer while your dryer is running
  • The exterior of your dryer is unusually warm or hot during and after using it
  • Heat is not present or being generated by the dryer even if there is an airflow present
  • There is an excessive amount of lint at the back of your dryer and the surrounding area around the duct
  • There is less lint on your lint trap


Lint build-up can and will cause your dryer to operate at higher temperatures than normal which will damage the internal parts, especially the heating elements including the heat sensor safety switches. This drastically shortens the lifespan of your dryer which would require you to pay extra for repairs if the warranty does not cover the damages or to buy a new one completely. All this unnecessary expenses can be easily avoided with regular maintenance checks on your dryer and annual cleaning of your dryer vents.

Benefits of Professional Dryer Vent Cleaning

Professional dryer vent cleaning is an investment that yields practical and long-term returns. You wont need to keep running up your electric bill with a dryer that is under performing because clean dryer vents will ensure that you wont need to do extra cycles to dry your laundry and your clothes will come out smelling better and properly dried.

You’ll also be extending the life your dryer while minimizing the need for costly and troublesome repairs. With regular cleaning, you’ll be able to maximize your dryer better, more efficiently and for a longer period.

Inside Dryer Cleaning Now Available

Due to increased demand from our clients we are now offering inside dryer cleaning. We take the backing of your dryer apart and clean up all lint from inside the dryer cabinet. We clean and inspect drive rollers and the drive belt, making sure all lint is removed, we will show you photos of your dryer too! Once lint has started to build up in your dryer vent it accumulates in the dryer itself. This lint build up inside is what will also cause dryer fires, we see so many dryers where there is burnt lint around the dryer element. Don’t take chances, follow the manufactures guidelines and have your dryer vent cleaned and the inside of your dryer as well ….

Shocking Video Reveals Lint Build up In the Dryer Vent & Dryer

Don’t Wait Until It Is Too Late!

More and more house fires are happening each and every year, insurance companies are now recommending you have your dryer vent and dryer cleaned every 1-2 years and more often if you are a using your clothes dryer a lot. And the dryer manufacturers have always said that the vent and dryer need to be cleaned out on a regular basis. Take a look below your lint trap and see how much lint there is, now imagine that lint accumulating inside the dryer and all through your dryer vent.


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