A fire chief has warned of the danger of ‘exploding teatowels’ after the dangerous phenomenon struck twice in a single day.

Two fires started by “spontaneously combusting laundry” broke out at Terre a Terre restaurant in Brighton and Brighton College earlier this month.

At Terre a Terre, a pile of tumble-dried tea towels was left in the kitchen overnight after the restaurant had closed.

Heat began to gradually build up in the centre of the mound of laundry before it suddenly exploded into flames.

The blaze gutted the kitchen beyond repair and the restaurant will not now reopen until December.

On the same day at Brighton College, a fire caused by the phenomenon broke out in the school.

It took six firemen using jets and hose reels to eventually extinguish the flames.

Brighton borough fire commander Mark Rist said the fire service was becoming “more aware” of the threat posed by drying laundry.

Spontaneously combust

He said: “Laundry can be surprisingly dangerous. If there are still cooking fats or chemicals on tea towels, they can spontaneously combust after being dried.

"This is something I’ve heard of but I’ve never seen it happen twice on one day.”

Mr Rist said people cooking in their kitchens should take care when drying their tea towels.

He said: “We’d advise people to make sure laundry is properly aired after drying to make sure this doesn’t happen too often.”

Olivia Reid from Terre a Terre said she had heard of the phenomenon before but never expected it to happen in the restaurant.

She said: “You can take precautions but it’s always going to be a risk.

“It’s best to process the laundry when people are there to keep an eye on it but in this case the fire destroyed the kitchen.

“Luckily it didn’t spread too far and we’ll be back open soon.”

See the latest news headlines from The Argus:

More news from The Argus

Follow @brightonargus

The Argus: Daily Echo on Facebook - facebook.com/southerndailyecho Like us on Facebook

The Argus: Google+ Add us to your circles on Google+