Stain-soaked rags, paper towels spark

Recycling bin, garage damaged by accidental ignition

Brian Schaeffer, Assistant Fire Chief, 509.625.7002

Saturday, April 9, 2016 at 8:21 a.m.

Oil-based-stain-saturated paper towels and rags disposed of in a large recycling bin accidentally caused a fire that spread onto the siding and roof of a garage. No injuries were reported and damage to the north Spokane home was estimated at $5,000.

Multiple evening commuters reported a column of smoke Friday evening in the 4900 block of N. Whitehouse. Firefighters found a large recycling bin fully involved with fire and the flames were spreading onto the siding and up into the roof of a detached garage.

Fire investigators determined the fire was accidentally started by paper towels and rags saturated with oil-based stain that the homeowner had applied to a fence earlier in the day. The Spokane Fire Department would like to remind everyone to read the label of any product you intend to apply to your fence or deck.

Many oil-based stain and waterproofing products present a fire danger. Tests have shown that heat produced in crumpled up rags is sufficient to start a fire in less than 15 minutes. For home and small commercial shops, the easiest way to prevent a fire is to spread the rags in a single layer so the heat can dissipate while the material on the rags is allowed to cure. Then, depending on local regulations, the materials can be safely disposed of, either in hazardous waste collection sites, or in the general landfill.