Oily Rags Cause House Fire


Bend Fire & Rescue was dispatched to a house fire on West Ridge Ave at 04:42 am on 6/19/24. Neighbors called stating the back of a house was on fire. Crews arrived and found a large three-story house with fire on all floors. The main part of the fire was stopped within 30 minutes but took another 3 ½ hours to fully contain the fire in attic and many concealed roof and wall spaces. The house was unoccupied at the time as its undergoing extensive renovations. No other structures were threatened by the fire. Bend Fire was assisted on scene by fire crews from Alfalfa, Cloverdale and Sunriver Fire Departments. Redmond Fire Department sent crews to Bend to help run other medical calls in town. A total of 7 fire engines, 2 ladder trucks, 2 ambulances, and multiple command staff, total of 40 personnel on scene. The building has a value of approximately $2,000,000 and the loss is estimated at least $1,500,000. The home owners and contractors insurance companies have been contacted and will be working to rebuild the house.

One Bend Fire & Rescue employee sustained injuries in a fall inside the house during fire operations. The employee was treated and released from St Charles Medical Center with non-life-threatening injuries and is recovering at home as of this evening.

The fire was caused by improperly disposed of oily rags. A contractor was staining the 2nd floor areas and forgot to add water to the bucket of used rags before leaving the day before. Several neighbors reported smelling smoke in the area several hours prior to smoke being seen coming from the house when the 911 calls were made.

Bend Fire & Rescue reminds everyone that oily rags can start a fire if not properly disposed of. The most common type of spontaneous combustion fires is those caused by improperly disposed of oil and stain-soaked rags. Spontaneous combustion of oily rags occurs when rag or cloth is slowly heated to its ignition point through oxidation. A substance will begin to release heat as it oxidizes. If this heat has no way to escape, like in a pile, the temperature will raise to a level high enough to ignite the oil and ignite the rag or cloth. The fire from this can spread quickly to other combustibles and cause great damage to your home or property.

To properly and safely dispose of oily rags, Bend Fire & Rescue recommends the following steps:

  1. Use a container with a tight-fitting lid. A metal can is preferable, but a plastic can or zip lock bag can work if nothing else is available.
  2. Place soiled and used rags inside and then fill the rest the way with water, seal the top and do not open it. This will prevent the oils from oxidizing, and thus keeping the rags from heating up and igniting.
  3. Contact your local garbage disposal company for their policy on disposal of the can and contents.  Some companies will permit disposal in regular household trash.

The Center Plans Integration With St. Charles

The Center Orthopedic and Neurosurgical Care & Research and St. Charles Health System have signed a letter of intent to explore expanding their relationship to preserve and strengthen access to orthopedic, neurosurgical, physical medicine and rehabilitation medicine