Woodworking Safety Guide

Oily rags blamed for fire that damaged Oregon home

comments (4) August 25th, 2009 in blogs

Tom Tom McKenna, Managing Editor
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Damage from fire ignited by oil-soaked rags in the workshop. - CLICK TO ENLARGE

Damage from fire ignited by oil-soaked rags in the workshop.

Photo: Courtesy of statesmanjournal.com

A fire in Salem, Oregon, is being blamed on linseed-oil soaked rags improperly disposed of. According to fire officials, the oil-soaked rags ignited via spontaneous combustion. The woodworker and homeowner had used the rags on a project that day, and the rags ignited in the evening. Just a reminder that you should dispose of oil-soaked rags the right way: put them in a container with a lid for controlled disposal, or hang them to dry in a well ventilated area.

The homeowner suffered minor injuries, and damage is estimated to be around $60,000.

For more tips and information on this topic, and to watch a video of an oil-soaked rag combusting, check out this previous post from Fine Woodworking's Guide to Safety.


posted in: blogs, , shop, fire, oil soaked rags, spontaneous combustion, garage

Comments (4)

danmosheim danmosheim writes: Hi Tom ... This happened to one of my clients recently. He lost a good part of his house and we're still cleaning the smoke damaged stuff that didn't burn up completely. i have some good tips on that if anyone's interested ...Here's a link below to my post about it ...

Posted: 9:57 pm on September 1st

Glenn Bradley Glenn Bradley writes: I have a metal bucket with a tight fitting lid. About $15 at most hardware stores. When I work with products that have this property, I put 2" of water in the bottom of the bucket and toss my rags in there as I work, keeping it covered.

Once I am done I remove the rags and hang them on a line away from any combustibles and leave them to dry. Once they are completely dry (its easy to tell, they're stiff and don't smell anymore) they go into the regular trash as recommended by our local waste disposal folks. Check with your local disposal outfit as rules vary.
Posted: 5:25 pm on September 1st

Tom Tom writes: Scary stuff, and it's so easy to forget about the rags.
Posted: 11:42 am on August 26th

MikeLingenfelter MikeLingenfelter writes: It might be time to give those water-based finishes a closer look!

Posted: 10:52 am on August 26th

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