Kevin MacMillan

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August 4, 2014
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Official: Fires destroy 2 Truckee homes; caused by spontaneous combustion

TRUCKEE, Calif. — Officials are reminding residents about proper oily rag disposal after two homes were destroyed recently by fires that apparently started by spontaneous combustion.

At about 1:10 a.m. Sunday, Truckee Fire Protection District crews responded to a fully involved blaze at a single-family residence at 10370 Martis Valley Road.

The home’s three occupants and a dog got out safely. No one was hurt, and no other structures were threatened, said Paul Spencer, Truckee Fire’s public information officer.

The structure sustained serious fire, smoke and water damage. Two vehicles parked in the garage also were destroyed.

While the fire is being investigated, it’s believed to be accidental, caused by an oily rag — used for mopping up a recent deck staining project — spontaneously combusting, Spencer said.

“(The rag) was put in a confined space, and not put out in water to dry,” Spencer said. “So what happens is the rag literally lights itself on fire because heat builds up.”

A similar type of spontaneous combustion started a house fire July 23 at 11973 Ski Run Road in Truckee, according to the district.

Crews arrived shortly after 11:45 p.m. and put out the blaze, which destroyed the garage and heavily damaged the home.

No one was hurt, and no other structures were damaged.

“It was the same scenario — they were working on their house and put material into a container that was not filled with water,” Spencer said.

Residents should dispose of oily rags by placing them in a metal container with a lid or in a bucket with water, he said, or spread them out on a noncombustible surface to dry before disposal.

“It’s similar to properly disposing fireplace ashes safely in the winter,” Spencer said.

While there’s no specific data, Spencer said the district deals with “at least two of these types of fires” every year.

For more information on oily rags and spontaneous combustion, visit or call Truckee Fire at 530-582-7853.

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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Aug 5, 2014 06:48PM Published Aug 11, 2014 10:16AM Copyright 2014 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.