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Oil-soaked rags spark fire at Vancouver furniture store

January 6, 2020
By The Canadian Press

Jan. 6, 2020, Vancouver – Vancouver Fire Rescue Services says it put out a fire at a furniture store Saturday morning that was sparked by a chemical reaction from oily rags.

A passerby noticed smoke coming from a rear window in a Kitsilano neighbourhood store, said Trevor Connelly, assistant chief operations.

The fire department received a call at around 7:15 a.m., he said, and when crews arrived on scene they forcibly entered the building after confirming the smoke.

Firefighters extinguished the fire quickly and there were no injuries, he said, adding the store has what he called a high fire load as it’s filled with various stains and furniture.

A fire investigator deemed the fire an accident, Connelly said.

The investigator determined the fire started from a chemical reaction from oily rags that were piled up in a manufacturing area of the store. Heat built up in the rags to the point where they spontaneously ignited, said Connelly.

“It does happen more often than you think,” he said, adding the department dealt with about four such fires last year.

He reminded businesses and individuals to ensure they dispose of oily rags properly or hang them up to try to prevent heat buildup and a chemical reaction.