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CEDAR HILL, Mo. – A Jefferson County family lost its home, belongings, and new puppy after investigators said the family’s clothes dryer caught fire.

“Dryers are notorious for having problems when you do not keep the lint traps clean,” said Battalion Chief Fire Marshall Bob Tucker, Cedar Hill Fire Protection District. “They had been having some problems with their dryer, taking two or three times to dry clothes, having to run it two to three times and that is very, very evident of a clogged lint trap.”

The home on River Road caught on fire at around 4:30 a.m. Wednesday. The family of five and escaped unharmed with two of their dogs, but unfortunately could not find their puppy in time.

“It was filling up with smoke while we were getting out,” said Michael Trost, the family’s oldest son.

About 30 minutes before, Michael said his mother had just started a load of laundry. She smelled the smoke, alerted everyone to get out, and called 911.

Fire investigators suggest cleaning out the dryer lint trap after every use and inspecting the dryer’s vent pipe that runs outside the house for lint every month.

“What will happen is it’ll clog all the way back up and won’t allow the air to go out and it will heat all that lint up and it can actually start a fire that way,” Tucker said.

The US Fire Administration reports that approximately 2,900 clothes dryer fires happen each year, causing death, injury, and $35 million in property loss. Failure to clean out the lint is the leading cause of those fires.

The Trost family has started a GoFundMe for help replacing the basics.