Metro, Newton

Newton House Fire Likely Caused by Oily Rags

The Newton Fire Department responded to reports of a fire on Central Avenue likely caused by oily rags yesterday, according to Newton Fire Chief Gregory Gentile.

The fire department arrived on the scene at about 11:30 a.m. 

“They found heavy fire on the upper floors on arrival and it quickly went to three alarms,” a press release from the fire department reads. “Firefighters battled the flames well into the afternoon before the fire was knocked down.”

Gentile said staining rags had been left in a trash bag on the stairs the day before the fire.

“The oils in many paints, stains, and varnishes release heat as they dry,” Gentile said in the press release. “If these rags are left in a pile or in the trash, that heat can become strong enough to ignite them and other nearby items.”

Gentile said in the release that fires caused by these kinds of rags are particularly hazardous.

“These fires are especially dangerous because they can smolder undetected for hours before bursting into flames that spread to other combustible items,” Gentile said.

The home in question is two-and-a-half stories and located at 8 Central Ave. 

The Newton Fire Department and the State Police officers assigned to the State Fire Marshal’s office investigated the cause of the fire. 

The press release said State Police fire investigators have identified oily rags as a potential cause for almost a dozen residential fires in 2023. 

State Fire Marshal Jon Davine advised people to be more cautious when disposing of such rags. 

“First, dry them individually outdoors,” Davine said. “You can hang dry them or spread them out flat on the ground. Once they’re dry, place them in a can filled with water and cover it with a tight-fitting lid. An old paint can works perfectly. Then drop it off at a household hazardous waste collection in your community.”

April 25, 2024

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