Oil-impregnated rags can act as spontaneous combustible material when not properly disposed.   PHOTO: LANCE MCKENZIE

Fire Heavily Damages Birch St. Home

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Thursday August 14, 2014

The South Burlington Fire Department responded to reports of a house fire at 27 Birch St. at 10:00 p.m. Tuesday, August 5. Multiple 911 calls reported a house under construction was engulfed in flames; the sound of the new home’s smoke alarm had alerted neighbors. Firefighters arrived less than six minutes later and found the single story, wood framed house 70 percent involved in fire. The fire was contained within 15 minutes. Vermont Air National Guard – E-7, and Burlington Fire Department’s - Tower 1 assisted South Burlington fire fighters at the scene, UVM Rescue provided medical coverage for firefighters, and Williston Fire Department provided Fire/EMS coverage to the city during the incident; a total of 18 firefighters were at the scene until 2:15 a.m. There were no injuries to civilians or firefighters during the incident.

The origin and cause investigation was completed by The South Burlington Fire Marshal’s Office where it was determined that the accidental fire was started when workers, who were staining a hardwood floor, had improperly disposed of the oil impregnated rags and towels in a plastic trash can inside the building. These volatile oils are likely to combust spontaneously if improperly disposed. Fire fighters urge citizens to read and follow all directions on products used for refinishing. Oily rags should be placed in a metal container with a tight lid until they can be disposed of properly.

This is the third fire in the city in the past month that was caused in this fashion. Total property losses from these events are in excess of $500,000.