Oil-stained rags lead to chemical reaction, fire at Kitsilano furniture store

Vancouver fire crews at the scene of a fire at a Kitsilano furniture store on Jan. 4, 2020. Shane MacKichan

A fire at a Kitsilano furniture store Saturday morning was caused by a chemical reaction between oil-stained rags, Vancouver fire officials confirm.

Crews were called to Kits Furniture in the 2300-block of Burrard Street just after 7:15 a.m. after a passerby saw smoke coming from the store.

Asst. Chief Trevor Connelly said crews made their way through the front of the store and into the back, where they found the fire in its early stages and knocked it down quickly.

READ MORE: Highrise fire in Vancouver’s West End caused by improperly stored linseed oil rags

“The previous night an employee had been staining some furniture, and during the course of the night, the rags with the stain in them had a chemical reaction, self-heated and ignited,” Connelly said.

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No one was hurt in the fire and the damage to the store was minimal, he added, including some smoke damage in the front retail area.

Connelly said calls like Saturday’s happen more frequently than one might think, with at least a dozen over the past few years.

READ MORE: 3 taken to hospital after fire rips through Kitsilano apartment building

He says it’s a reminder for employees and homeowners to store stained or oiled rags properly after use.

“They need to be hung out so they can dry — if they’re hung up then the heat can’t build up — or they need to be placed into a proper receptacle” like a metal bin, Connelly said.

Kits Furniture remained closed Saturday due to the fire.

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Oily rags caused near-disastrous Vancouver fire – Jun 4, 2019

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