A shed fire, sparked by spontaneous combustion, could have had more serious consequences if not spotted by a neighbour on the weekend.                                News Bulletin file photo

A shed fire, sparked by spontaneous combustion, could have had more serious consequences if not spotted by a neighbour on the weekend. News Bulletin file photo

Spontaneous combustion sparks shed fire

Oily rags ignite, causing blaze in backyard at Meredith Road property

A fire that destroyed a shed on the weekend could have had more serious consequences if a neighbour hadn’t spotted it.

Nanaimo Fire Rescue was alerted to the fire shortly after 10:30 a.m. Saturday by a neighbour who spotted the blaze behind a home at 2241 Meredith Rd.

“There was one tenant at home at the time of the fire and he was completely unaware because he was at the front part of the house and the fire was at the back,” said Alan Millbank, Nanaimo Fire Rescue fire prevention officer.

A handyman working for the property owner had been staining a gazebo behind the house and had left brushes and rags covered in stain under a chair near a shed and when the sun shone on the rags they spontaneously ignited, Millbank said.

“It was a product that was known to spontaneously ignite if not properly disposed of,” he said.

He said certain stains and other finishing products containing linseed, cotton and other types of oils will spontaneously ignite rags if the temperature rises to a certain point. Rags and brushes must be soaked in water or hung out to dry to prevent the buildup of flammable gases from the oils, according to firefighters. Disposal and storage instructions and warnings are printed on the products’ containers.

“Firefighters were actually able to limit the damage to just the shed, so it was actually a really good save,” he said. “There was no smoke alarms or detection system outside that would have caught it. Luckily a neighbour was outside and saw it and called it in.”

photos@nanaimobulletin.com

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