Oily rags spontaneously ignite, burn kitchen of Spokane home

Oily rags spontaneously ignite, burn kitchen of Spokane home

Investigators with the Spokane Fire Department have determined a Thursday evening house fire in the Chief Garry Park area started when rags, left with oil/stain on them, spontaneously ignited.

Someone reported seeing smoke coming from the home, near 1900 E. Marshall Ave., just after 5:30 p.m. Thursday. The home was being renovated and was vacant at the time. Firefighters quickly put the flames out and contained the damage to the kitchen area. No was injured.

The Spokane Fire Dept. explained Friday, “Spontaneous combustion of oily rags occurs when rag or cloth is slowly heated to its ignition point through oxidation. A substance will begin to release heat as it oxidizes. If this heat has no way to escape, like in a pile, the temperature will raise to a level high enough to ignite the oil and ignite the rag or cloth.”

According to fire investigators, this is actually one of the most common types of spontaneous combustion. It can happen with cloth that’s been used for oil-based paints and stains, varnishes and polyurethane, paint thinners, etc.

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