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Sprinkler stops NW Bend restaurant fire sparked by oil still in laundered rags

Broken Top Bottle Shop rags fire 6-18
Bend Fire & Rescue
Bend Fire official says laundered kitchen rags still had enough oil in them to spark fire

'Laundering does not get out all the residual oil,' official says

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) – A northwest Bend restaurant’s bagged, laundered kitchen rags still had enough oil on them to spontaneously combust and spark a fire early Thursday morning that was stopped quickly by a sprinkler head, an official said.

Bend Fire & Rescue crews were dispatched around 4 a.m. to the report of a possible structure fire at Broken Top Bottle Shop & Ale Café on NW Pence Avenue, Battalion Chief Trish Connolly reported.

Crews arriving on scene saw smoke in the building, forced entry into the business and found a small sprinkler-controlled fire in the dining area, Connolly said.

The sprinkler system also set off all alarms in the building, alerting occupants in the apartments above the business, who evacuated with the help of police as fire crews arrived on scene. They were able to return to their apartments within an hour, Connolly said.

Fire crews made sure the fire was out and ventilated the businesses to reduce smoke damage, Connolly said.

The sprinkler system put out the fire, which began in the dining room from kitchen rags placed on a table, in laundry bags. Connolly said the fire was caused by spontaneous combustion from laundered rags which still had kitchen oils on them and were not separated after being dried.

Because the linen rags were in laundry bags and were not separated, the heat from the rags rose high enough to ignite the bags of linen.

Connolly said it’s more likely to occur in restaurants, spas and businesses where linens are used to clean up combustible substances, such as oils.

"Laundering does not get out all the residual oil, especially when the rags are used over and over with oil substances, so the residual oil builds up over time," Connolly said.

Suggested laundry safety guidelines say separating rags after being laundered is important to avoid such fires.

Damage was estimated at $5,000 to the restaurant and $2,500 to the contents.

Fire damage to the building was minimal due to the quick dousing of the fire by the sprinkler system. On average, Connolly said, fires are controlled by activation of one or two sprinkler heads, which not only put out the fire but keep water damage to a minimum.

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Barney Lerten

Barney is the digital content director for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Barney here.



    1. That’s disgusting!!! Using rags that are so greasy they self combust!!!! Eeeewe!!!! Hopefully the health inspector will be visiting them soon!!!

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