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Dangers Of Keeping Oily Rags Laying Around

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Rancho Calaveras, CA – A structure fire in Valley Springs showed the danger of not disposing of oily rags.

A report of a residential structure fire with extension into the vegetation brought Calaveras Consolidated Fire, CAL Fire and San Andreas Fire to the 3300 block of Barde Road near Bane Road and south of Highway 26 in Rancho Calaveras. Fire officials detailed that Calaveras Consolidated Firefighters arrived on the scene and reported that the fire was extinguished by the homeowner and did not involve the house. The cause of the fire was determined to have started with discarded oil-soaked rags used to stain a deck and left on a flatbed trailer, where they spontaneously combusted.

Spontaneous combustion of oily rags occurs when the rag or cloth is slowly heated to its ignition point through oxidation, according to fire officials. The grass fire was contained at a 40’ by 40’ spot in front of the home. These safety tips for getting rid of oily rags are offered:

Drying Rags:

  • Spread out or hang the oily rags in a single layer in an outdoor area that is out of the sun and is well-ventilated. Be sure to lay them on a non-combustible surface, such as bare soil or concrete; do not lay them on your recently oiled deck, for example.
  • Let the rags dry fully for at least two days. Some materials may take longer, but the rags should be allowed to remain until they feel dry to the touch and the oily smell is no longer strong.
  • Dispose of the dried rags as directed by your garbage pickup service or local hazardous waste disposal center.

Container Disposal:

  • Put the rags back into a metal container and fill it with water; put the lid back on. Then take it to a disposal center.

  • Vegetation burned in the fire