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Oily rags caused a house fire in Stratton Friday morning.

STRATTON >> Oily rags spontaneously combusted, causing a fire at a Stratton home Friday morning.

Stratton Mountain Fire Department responded to the first alarm call but cancelled all mutual upon arrival because the fire had been extinguished. According to Stratton's Assistant Chief, Ray Hawksley, there were painters working on the garage adjacent to the home and oily rags were left in a pile that caused the combustion.

"When the linseed oil in the paint is exposed to air the linseed oil mixes with oxygen in the air, it oxidizes and heats, and that's where you get the spontaneous combustion," said Hawksley. "Once the product reaches its flash point, it self ignites when reaching a certain temperature."

The call came in around 7 a.m. as a garage fire with interior and exterior wall on fire.

Hawksley said a piece of PEX plastic plumping pipe was heated from the fire, causing it to melt and spray water around the fire, which he says, "pretty much saved the building." In addition he notes that painters were at the home performing work on house and no work was being done on the garage, but paint cans and oily rags were found near outside of garage. When the fire began, the painters grabbed a garden hose attached to the garage and extinguished some of the flames that way, according to Hawksley.

The building was saved with damage to some exterior and destruction of the fresh patio door and some smoke and water damage. The origin of the fire appeared to be on exterior east side of the garage, which includes living space above garage.


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No people or animals sustained any injuries.

Hawksley said to prevent this type of spontaneous combustion, people should soak the oily rags in water after use.

Responders included Stratton Mountain Fire Company and mutual aid from Winhall, Jamaica, South Londorerry and Wardsboro departments

Maddi Shaw can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 275.