Clothes in Dryer Overheating Cause fire at Rutherford County Adult Detention Center


Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office

No one suffered injuries when clothes in a dryer overheated, causing flames to erupt in the laundry room early Tuesday at Rutherford County Adult Detention Center, said Sheriff Mike Fitzhugh.

Detention deputies smelled smoke from the laundry room, opened the dryer door and removed the laundry to cool it down. The fire started about 4:45 a.m. and the sheriff’s office called Murfreesboro Fire Rescue Department.

As a precaution, inmates who on the second floor above the laundry room were moved to another area of the detention center. The fire did not break through the ceiling.

This was the second call for the dryers in less than 24 hours.

Detention Deputy Aaron Lyons responded to smoke in the laundry room Monday afternoon and used a fire extinguisher to douse a small fire.

Deputies removed the inmates working in the laundry room who were checked by the medical staff while Lyons was treated for smoke inhalation at Ascension St. Thomas Rutherford Hospital and released.

“It’s imperative to know we take care of the inmates seriously,” Fitzhugh said. “That’s why it is very disturbing to us when events occur. We take every precaution we can in the care of our inmates.”

The medical staff is on call 24 hours a day to treat inmates.

“We take the same care with our employees with concern for their welfare too,” Fitzhugh said.

With Tuesday’s fire, Assistant Fire Marshal Clay Malone said the overheated dryer was believe cause of the fire.

The sprinkler system activated and contained the fire to the dryer and a laundry cart. Firefighters extinguished the fire.

“The sprinkler system did what it is designed to do, and prevented the fire from spreading,” Malone said. “The sprinklers were shut off by detention officers to try and prevent flooding.”

The laundry room and a hallway sustained extensive water damage.

Firefighters used fans to ventilate smoke out of the laundry room.

Fitzhugh said a representative of the dryer company was called to address the issue.

The dryer lint traps are cleaned daily and the dryers are inspected, vacuumed and cleaned each month.

Jail Administrator Kevin Henderson said the detention staff conduct fire drills every week and responded quickly to the fire.

“Thanks to the effort of the staff, minimum damage was done with a fast reaction to each incident,” Henderson said.

Laundry from the detention center will be done at the Correctional Work Center until the laundry room repairs are made.