Improperly stored rags cause house fire

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Arlington Engine 32-15 from Station 5.

TOWN OF POUGHKEEPSIE – A home just purchased last week by a family at 5 Briarwood Road in the Town of Poughkeepsie was the scene of a two-alarm fire on Tuesday and spontaneous combustion was determined to be the cause.

Arlington firefighters were on the scene in four minutes of the alarm and observed smoke coming from the eaves and second-story windows of a two-story house, according to Fire Chief William Steenbergh.

Firefighters forced entry into the house and immediately encountered heavy smoke conditions throughout the vacant structure.  The entire house was searched for possible victims, with negative results.  While performing the search, the firefighters located flames on both the first floor and in the basement of the structure.  The blazes were quickly extinguished, according to Steenbergh.

The two-alarm fire brought assistance to the scene from the City of Poughkeepsie Fire Department, Town of Poughkeepsie Police, Mobile Life Support Services, and Central Hudson Gas & Electric.  

New Hamburg, New Hackensack, and Pleasant Valley Fire Districts relocated equipment and manpower to Arlington stations to cover calls while the fire was being fought.

The fire was investigated by the Arlington Fire District Fire Investigation Division and the Town of Poughkeepsie Police.  Chief Steenbergh said that the cause of the blaze “was determined to be from spontaneous combustion of rags used in the refinishing process that had been left in the kitchen inside a plastic bag.”  

The rags ignited, setting the kitchen wall and floor on fire, eventually burning a hole in the kitchen floor, allowing the fire to extend into the basement.  The homeowner had just purchased the home last week and was in the process of refinishing and staining the floors in the structure.

No injuries resulted from the fire and Chief Steenbergh used it as an opportunity to remind the public that “oil-soaked rags should never be left inside a structure after use, and should always be disposed of in a sealed metal container.”