Sweet Home Fire District believes spontaneous combustion caused garage fire

SWEET HOME, Ore. – Fire officials believe spontaneous combustion caused a fire in the garage of a Sweet Home residence Saturday.

Sweet Home Fire District said a neighbor reported smoke coming from the roof vents of a garage at 1685 Cedar Street.

Investigators believe rags that had been used to treat furniture with “teak oil” spontaneously combusted near a freezer. They said the fire appears to have spread to the freezer and some items in the garage before it climbed into the ceiling joists.

Once in the ceiling, Sweet Home Fire District said luckily the heat caused some copper water lines to rupture and spray down onto the fire. This prevented it from spreading further into the structure.

Firefighters extinguished the remained of the fire. They said most if the damage is from smoke.

Sweet Home fire reminds the public that spontaneous combustion of oily rags is still a very common occurrence, especially as temperatures and humidity rise.

They said if you are going to use rags to apply or clean oils, especially seed-based oils, there are some steps you can take to reduce the risk of them catching fire.

  1. Never store rags in a pile. Used rags should be spread out in a safe flat area to dry. If you lay them out on your garage floor or driveway, weight them down so the wind doesn’t blow them away. Once they’re dry, check with your city or municipality for disposal instructions.
  2. Store the rags in an airtight, non-combustible metal container. If you plan to use your rags later, this step is critical. The metal container should be filled with a solution of water and an oil breakdown detergent.
  3. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations. Since manufacturers use different oils in their products, it’s important to follow their warnings and disposal instructions. They may differ from manufacturer to manufacturer.

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