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Oily rags spontaneously combust causing Kailua fire that damaged 2 homes

Oily rags left in a cardboard box caused a spontaneous combustion fire that damaged two Kailua homes in the early morning on Monday, Honolulu firefighters said today.

Honolulu Fire Department Capt. David Jenkins said firefighters determined the source of the fire to be oily rags left in a cardboard box in the garage.

He said the occupant reported teak oil had been applied to furniture the day before the fire and the used cotton rags had been placed in a box in the garage where the fire started.

The fire caused about $150,000 to the structure, contents and a neighboring property. Firefighters responded to the two-alarm fire about 1 a.m. in the 1450 block of Akupa Street and found the single-story home engulfed in flames.

About 30 firefighters brought the fire under control in about 25 minutes. One man who was home alone was able to get out, but received treatment from paramedics because he wasn’t feeling well.

Jenkins urged those who store oil, gas, or paint-soaked rags to keep them in a tightly sealed metal container. Cloths containing teak or linseed oil, stain, some oil-based paints, vegetable oil and other natural oils are subject to spontaneous ignition.

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  • Our Neighbor had an eyeopener when he stored oily rage iin one of those large plastic paint buckets. Before the rags ignitted he found the bucket melting from the heat– a little longer and it would have ignited. You need a well sealed metal container..

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