9 year old girl nearly burns to death after her night gown suddenly goes up in flames

Published On: Tuesday, January 15, 2013 2:00 AM
By: Ryan Lee Hall
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Fabric softener may have caused the nightgown of a 9-year-old girl in Washington State to burst into flames, leaving her near death at the Oregon Burn Center at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center in Portland.

The nightgown ignited after Addie lit a match in the family bathroom, and the flames spread rapidly.

When she heard her daughter scream, Addie’s mother ran to her and rolled her on the floor, extinguishing the fire in less than a minute, however, this did not prevent the severe burns that now cover three-quarters of Addie’s body.

Fire Marshal Richard Martin says that the girl’s nightgown caught fire as she lit a match in the bathroom. Although the first suspect was an accelerant such as hair spray, they now believe that the Downey liquid fabric softener used by the family helped the flames ignite.

Martin claims that softeners such as these commonly increase the flammability of fabrics like fleece or terry by making them fluffier, and the danger increases with each use of the softening product.
“If that’s a favorite nightgown, it’s going to get washed a whole lot,” he told the news media.
The fuzziness encouraged by the softener, explains Martin, is a sign of fabric that has broken down, and this creates more surface area that is exposed to the flame. This is not an unknown phenomenon.

Proctor & Gamble’s website has a warning regarding this possibility, stating that anti-inflammatory properties of cloth can break down when washed with fabric softener.