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Exothermic reactions, varnish, fire 9 prevention, and more!

July 27, 2011

In my line of work I have seen a number of fires started from an exothermic reaction on a rag or cloth used to apply varnish or that was used in painting.  A house fire on Bainbridge Island started from a varnish soaked rag this past weekend.

Of the myriad of first hand examples that come to mind, the story of an older couple stands out.  This sweet couple were three days away from moving back in to their newly remodeled “dream” home.  The painting company had left a partially opened can of varnish complete with a used rag draped across its top sitting in the middle of the hardwood floor in the entry way (does this sentence make sense???).  By the dawns early light the glare of flames had subsided.  The aftermath included a large three foot in diameter hole in the hardwood floor and a smoked-out home.

For this couple that three days until move in turned into three months.

Please don’t stop your paint and varnish projects — Just read warning labels and use common sense.  A fantastic blog called Fire 9 Prevention deals with information on how to keep your house out of a fire incident report.  It’s blog post on July 8, 2011 entitled Stain Rags and House Fires is a fantastic read on the subject.

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