On 7-18-22 at 1:01 am, Woodburn firefighters responded to a residential structure fire on Tomlin Avenue in Woodburn. The fire was started by the spontaneous ignition of rags that were used to clean up oil based stain. None one was injured in the fire that caused extensive damage to the home.

WFD E-21 arrived to find a one-story ranch style residence with heavy fire showing on the west side of the house and heavy smoke issuing from all of the roof eves from the attic vents.  The fire started on the exterior and grew rapidly in a pile of debris that was stored against the outside wall of the home. The fire extended into the house through a large bedroom window that failed due to fire impingement within one minute of the fire ignition.  The first arriving fire crews did a quick knock-down of the exterior fire and then made entry into the house and extinguished the fire in the bedroom that was adjacent to the exterior fire.  Following a thorough search of the structure for trapped occupants, firefighters worked to pull down the ceiling drywall to expose and extinguish the fire that had fully involved the entire attic space.

Fire investigators determined that a trash bag filled with rags used to clean up an oil-based finish had spontaneously ignited.  The homeowner’s security cameras provided video evidence of the fire ignition and investigators found the remains of the rags used to clean-up the oil-based stain.

A family of four, that was sleeping when the fire started, escaped before firefighters arrived.  Firefighters had zero visibility and high heat upon entry into the structure.  The fire heavily damaged the west exterior of the home, the attic and roof structure and one bedroom.  Heavy smoke conditions throughout the home and the need for ceiling removal and water application in the attic damaged the contents in all rooms of the residence.  The intensity of the fire blistered paint and melted the vinyl windows of a neighboring home.

The Woodburn Fire District would like to remind homeowners to use caution when working with oil-based stains and finishes. Spontaneous combustion of oily rags occurs when a rag or cloth used in the product application or clean-up is slowly heated to its ignition point through oxidation that releases heat. If the heat has no way to escape, like in a pile or sealed garbage bag, the temperature will rise to a level high enough to ignite the oil and the rag or cloth. .All rags used to apply and clean-up oil-based finishes must be stored outside in a metal container or laid out in the open on a noncombustible surface until fully dry before disposing.

Homeowners should also avoid the storage of combustible materials against the exterior of their home.  An exterior fire will quickly break windows and extend into the living spaces of the home and into the attic through ventilation openings.

Firefighters from Hubbard, Mt. Angel, Aurora, and Marion County Fire District #1 along with volunteer firefighters from Woodburn all assisted Woodburn career firefighters in extinguishing the fire. Volunteers from the Woodburn CERT provided rehab for the firefighters working at the scene. For information on how to serve the community as a volunteer firefighter or CERT member please visit the Woodburn Fire website.