Spontaneous combustion from oily rags discarded in a waste container appear to have started a Thursday morning fire at an Oak Ridge warehouse, authorities said.
The Oak Ridge Fire Department responded to the fire after a sprinkler system activated at a warehouse at 342 Warehouse Road at about 6:50 a.m. Thursday, July 21.
Firefighters found heavy smoke coming from the windows and doors of the building when they arrived, a press release said.
“The fire crew entered through the front door and quickly extinguished a fire in a waste container,” the press release said.
Authorities said the structure was unoccupied at the time of the fire, and damage was minimal. The fire was initially controlled by the building sprinkler system, with a single sprinkler head activating.
“The fire was contained to a waste container and the remainder of the business suffered minimal heat and smoke damage,” the press release said. “Without the sprinkler system, several businesses within the building could have been destroyed.”
“This fire points out two critical safety items worth discussing,” the press release said.
First, sprinkler systems save lives and property.
“Many folks complain about the cost of maintaining their commercial sprinkler system; however the cost is fractional to the loss of a structure, business, and local jobs,” the press release said. “This fire was another excellent example of the sprinkler system controlling the fire and notifying the fire department for additional response.”
Second, this is the third fire in Oak Ridge in the past four years started by spontaneous combustion. Discarding oily rags from refinishing furniture, cleaning wood products, working on vehicles, or any other work that involves certain types of oil products can begin to create internal heat to the point where the rags ignite.
“The rags should be kept in a covered metal container or laid out flat so the residue can evaporate prior to being disposed of,” the release said.
“The final solution requires either destruction by something like burning, or a safe way to let the material cure without cumulating heat,” the release said. “For home and small commercial shops, the easiest way is to spread the rags in a single layer so heat dissipates while the material cures. Then, depending on local regulations, the materials can be safely disposed of, either in hazardous waste collection sites, or in the general landfill.”
Read more here. If you have questions or concerns, please feel free to contact the Oak Ridge Fire Department fire marshal’s office for help in proper storing and disposal of oil soaked rags.
Copyright 2016 Oak Ridge Today. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.