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State Fire Marshal warns of spring fire hazards

Posted at 9:09 AM, Mar 21, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-21 10:13:05-04

The State Fire Marshal’s Office is offering a warning to residents about the potential dangers of spontaneous ignition with chemicals like oil-based paints, stains, and varnishes.

Fire officials say these types of chemicals, often used in cleaning and home improvement projects in the springtime, can pose as a potential fire hazard if not disposed of carefully.

Items like oily rags and towels covered in linseed and turpentine are common catalysts for spontaneous ignition, according to the SFM.

Spontaneous ignition, also known as spontaneous combustion, occurs when materials increase in temperature without drawing heat from its surrounding. The National Fire Protection Association says that yearly, more than 14,000 are started by spontaneous ignition.

The Fire Marshal’s Office says that three fires in the last week resulted from the spontaneous combustion of cleaning rags.

One fire at a Jonesboro hospital began after a bucket of rags used to clean kitchen appliances caught fire. That incident was contained to the bucket. A home in Prairieville also received minor damage after rags used to stain wood were discarded in a home garbage can and caught fire.

The SFM recommends several options for used-rag disposal to avoid experiencing this phenomenon in your home or business:

  • Never discard oily rags together in any kind of container right after use
  • Thoroughly and individually dry rags outside on concrete and out of direct sunlight before disposal
  • Fill a metal can with water, place the rags into the can then secure the can closed before disposing
  • Never leave disposal cans and/or buckets with oily rags indoors, including in garages