The spontaneous combustion of soiled rags is a concern for the Saskatoon Fire Department.
Some recent structure fires in the city have been caused by the soiled rags that had not been sufficiently cleaned or properly stored.
A family in Montgomery Place was left homeless in July after fire ripped through several structures.
It was determined soiled rags used for staining self-heated and spontaneously combusted after being placed in an open container in an attached garage.
The most recent incident happened on Sept. 17 when a garage on Avenue Q North caught fire.
Fire officials said rags, towels, and other applicators soiled with combustible products, such as oil-based paints, stains, and finishing products, are a serious concern as they release heat while drying.
If the heat is trapped and has access to oxygen, it will build up, creating an ideal environment for a fire to start.
Here are tips to follow for the cleaning, storing or disposal of soiled applicators:
- allow adequate drying time by hanging soiled rags in an open-air environment and away from combustible materials;
- never bundle soiled rags together or leave them in a pile – this can create a chemical reaction allowing them to self-heat and spontaneously combust;
- place dry soiled rags in a metal container with a tight-fitting lid to limit the amount of oxygen;
- keep metal containers in a cool place and out of direct sunlight;
- never store soiled rags or the containers near a heat source; and
- dispose of soiled rags at a hazardous waste drop-off day.