June 2018 News Archive

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House fire in West Park caused by improperly stored and discarded oily rags

June 21, 2018 10:01 AM
(Red Deer, Alberta)

Red Deer Emergency Services (RDES) personnel responded to a fire on Wade Close yesterday that caused sufficient damage to one home.

RDES arrived on scene shortly after 1 p.m. on Tuesday, June 19 and found the fire had started on the outside of the home, in the backyard. The fire extended from ground level onto the exterior wall of the home, upward through the roof soffit and into the roof assembly. Estimated damage to the home is $250,000. There were no injuries.

After an investigation, RDES determined the probable cause of the fire to be the improper storage of oily rags. Workers hired by the resident were staining the rear wooden deck. Oily rags were stored in plastic bags and place on the ground against the exterior wall of the home.

Rags used with this product may begin to spontaneously heat, increasing in temperature without drawing heat from its surroundings, and the heat build-up was increased by hot temperatures. The wood-oil that was being used to stain the deck contained vegetable oils that include sunflower oil and soya bean-oil. The internal chemical or biological reaction within the oily rags produced sufficient heat to ignite the rags.    

In recent years, improperly stored and discarded oily rags have been the cause of several large fires in residential and commercial properties in Red Deer.

RDES staff will go door-to-door in the neighbourhood this evening to speak with residents about fire safety as part of the After the Fire safety program.

Red Deer Emergency Services is reminding residents of these important fire safety tips to prevent fires at home:

  • Always read and follow the product labels instructions regarding the use, storage and disposal of products that are subject to self-heating.
  • When using rags to apply products that may begin to burn by themselves, store oily and solvent-wet rags in a tightly sealed metal container, or hang them outside to dry and then discard.


For more information, contact:

Tim Kivell       
Assistant Fire Marshal
Red Deer Emergency Services

Communications & Strategic Planning
The City of Red Deer

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