On Dec. 30, Nelson Fire and Rescue Services responded to a report of a burning smell in a commercial building on Josephine Street. An on-duty firefighter responded immediately from the fire station.
Upon arrival there was a strong burning odour with elevated carbon monoxide levels but no visible smoke. Additional firefighters were called to the scene to assist. The crew’s primary objective was to ensure everyone was out of the building and there was no danger to adjacent residents. This was immediately followed by a search for the source of the odour.
During the search crews gained entry to a locked business to discover a large laundry sack smouldering near the rear of the building. The sack had been packed with oily linens from a massage therapy business. Fire crews immediately removed the smouldering laundry sack from the unit to a safe location outside. Once outside with a fresh supply of oxygen, the bag fully ignited into flames within three minutes.
It is extremely fortunate that an employee was at work in an adjacent business who noticed the smell and alerted Nelson Fire and Rescue Services. Had the smouldering laundry sack been left much longer it is certain that a commercial building fire would have resulted. Due to the early detection and removal of the smouldering materials there were no injuries or significant damage.
Nelson Fire and Rescue Services would like to take this opportunity to inform residents and business owners that many oil-based products such stains with linseed or other oils and even everyday oils such as cooking and massage oils have the potential to spontaneously combust under the right conditions.
Oil-soaked linens should be laundered as soon as possible following use with hot water to remove the oil from the material and do not use high dryer heat to dry. Oil-soaked linens that have been laundered but the oil has not been removed still have the potential to self-ignite in the dryer or once stacked. Oil-soaked rags or linens should not be stored indoors and if possible, should be stored in an air tight container. Following are some additional points to help avoid spontaneous combustion of oil-soaked linens:
• Launder soiled linens immediately and do not store for extended periods of time.
• If you must store linens prior to washing, store them outside and away from other combustibles, preferably in a metal container with a metal self-closing lid.
• Spontaneous ignitions may occur in washed and dried linens containing residual material.
• Completely wash the linens at a high temperature of at least 40 Celsius prior to drying.
• Avoid large stacks or piles of linens. Separate them into smaller piles.
• Dry the linens on low heat (below 51 C) to avoid the oil’s flashpoint.
Additional information regarding oil-soaked rags or linens and spontaneous combustion can be found by conducting a relevant search on the internet search platform or by contacting Nelson Fire and Rescue Services at 250 352-3103