Fire destroys Prosser Lakeview home | SierraSun.com
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Fire destroys Prosser Lakeview home

ABHUTCHISON, Sierra Sun

A Thursday afternoon blaze that destroyed the second floor of a Prosser Lakeview home was caused by spontaneous combustion of oily rags left on the deck, Truckee Fire Protection District officials said.

The four residents of the house, a family of two parents and one child and an adult boarder, were not at home when the fire started.

According to TFPD Fire Prevention Officer Chuck Thomas, one of the residents stained the deck that morning, and rags soiled with an oil-based stain were left on the second-story deck. The fire was reported just before 3 p.m. by a neighbor who saw smoke coming from the house.

“It was an accident and one that many people make,” said Thomas.

Twenty fire fighters from TFPD, Donner Summit Fire Department, Squaw Valley Fire Department and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection controlled the fire. When TFPD crews first arrived, the fire was burning the second story deck and inside the house, said Thomas. It took approximately 20-30 minutes to extinguish the fire.

The second story was completely destroyed, where two bedrooms and a bathroom had been.

The bottom floor suffered extensive heat and smoke damage. Two pets were killed in the fire as well.

TFPD officials said this was the first significant structure fire in quite awhile and the only spontaneous combustion fire this year.

“We have them each year,” said Thomas. “I’m trying to go to different businesses around town that sell the stuff and get them to hang warning signs to remind people,” he said.

Any wood-finishing oil-based products have the potential for spontaneous combustion. The most common oils that can combust are linseed oil, tung oil and cotton seed oil, which are often used for refinishing in homes, said Thomas.

Improper storage or disposal of cloth and paper soiled with an oil-based stain or paint has the potential to create a fire hazard from spontaneous combustion. Rags should be spread out to dry completely before disposing of properly, allowing heat to dissipate. Another method Thomas suggested is to soak the rags or paper in water before placing them in an air-tight container and disposing of properly.

Although the house suffered extensive damage, the fire did have one positive aspect.

“The people had done a lot of defensible space work and that prevented the fire from spreading to neighboring homes and wildland. It’s kind of a positive note in a tragic story,” said Thomas.

The family is currently staying with friends, he said.


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