Grand Forks Fire/Rescue is reminding the public to safely store oily rags after a backyard improvement project nearly torched a home on the 800-block of 72nd Avenue.
Dep. Fire Chief Rich Piché said no one was home when a wooden retaining wall caught fire behind the home at around 1:15 p.m., Monday, May 17. The fire broke out after rags laden with linseed oil self-ignited in the midday heat.
The rags had been left at the foot of the wall by a resident who’d used the linseed oil to stain the wall. The wall stands around three metres from a wooden deck attached to the home.
“It would’ve taken just a few minutes of effort and this wouldn’t have happened,” the resident told The Gazette.
Piché said the fire was reported by a neighbour who smelled smoke coming from the home.
Fumes coming off oily rags and solvents are highly volatile. Piché, who extinguished the fire with the help of a neighbour, said homes and shops can and do burn down when the fumes ignite.
Oily rags are best stored in sealed metal tins, he said.