Fire chief warns residents that oily rags could burst into flame -

Fire chief warns residents that oily rags could burst into flames

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BELLEVILLE, Ill. ( – If you keep oil or stain-soaked rags lying around the house, you may be more susceptible to suffering a house fire, warns a Metro-East fire chief.

Many people ball up rags used to finish and clean wood. However, one of those rags is being blamed as the cause of a house fire that damaged a home in Belleville earlier this week. And that fire is just one of five throughout this year that Belleville Fire Chief Tom Pour believed is cause by spontaneous combustion.

Here’s what Pour says happens. After someone cleans furniture or stains a wood floor the rags are filled with those oils. Heat is then generated during the drying process because oils do not dry like paint. Instead they dry through the same process that generates dire.

“Some care needs to be taken to make sure that instead of the rags being balled up in a wad, in a plastic bucket or in a container that they’re spread out and put on a non-combustible surface,” Pour said. “Some people say they spread them out on a medal ladder or lay them out on a driveway.”

Pour said these products are a good way to clean and finish wood, but just like medication the labels should be read to know the side effects. Or in this case, the dangers if not handled properly.

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