Spontaneous combustion of oily rags blamed for Pasadena house fire

PASADENA — A fire attributed to the spontaneous combustion of oily rags scorched a house and displaced a couple Saturday, authorities said.
No injuries were reported in the fire, which was first reported just after 10:50 p.m. at a single-story home in the 2000 block of Brigden Road, according to Pasadena Fire Department spokeswoman Lisa Derderian.
“Neighbors saw flames and called 9-1-1,” she said. The residents were not initially aware their home was on fire.
A man and wife living in the home got out unhurt, Derderian said.
Twenty-eight firefighters extinguished the fire in about 25 minutes.
An investigator determined the fire ignited due to oil-soaked rags left in a trash container next to the home earlier in the day, Derderian said. It was ruled accidental.
In a chemical reaction well-known to woodworkers and auto mechanics, the drying oily rags generated enough heat to spontaneously burst into flames, officials said.
It was not immediately clear what type of oil was being used.
“The fire went right up the side of the house,” Derderian said.
It then made its way into the home’s attic, where the fire did the most damage.
Officials estimated the fire caused about $140,000 worth of damage to the house and its contents.

PHOTOS courtesy of Jaime Nichols/Pasadena Fire Department

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