At 4:27 p.m. on Friday, June 9, Littleton Fire Rescue responded to numerous 911 reports of a structure fire near West Mineral Avenue and West Long Avenue. A large plume of black smoke was already visible for miles as crews were responding. First arriving Ladder 12 found two single-family homes both heavily involved with fire at 7951 and 7961 South Bemis Circle. Firefighters deployed hose lines and searched all areas of the homes they could while battling the intense heat.
A ruptured natural gas meter was fueling the flames and an energized electrical wire on the ground added to the already challenging situation.
At 5:11 p.m. neighbors told Littleton Police that third home was on fire 9 houses south of the scene at 7979 South Bemis Street. An additional alarm was dispatched and some firefighters from the Bemis Circle incident responded as well as several fire units from South Metro Fire. Embers carried by the smoke plume fell on the shake shingle roof and ignited a fire. The flames were quickly extinguished and isolated to the roofing material, there was no fire damage inside the home. 2 Firefighters were transported to the hospital for heat exhaustion and thankfully no community members were injured.
Littleton Fire determined that spontaneous combustion was the cause of the fires. Rags that had been used to stain a deck were left in a container near one house and ignited in the 95 degree heat.
Of the three homes were involved; two are considered complete losses.
LittletonFireRescue has some safety tips on handling oily rags:
1- Never store rags in a pile. Used rags should be spread out in a safe flat area to dry. If you lay them out on your garage floor or driveway, weight them down so the wind doesn’t blow them away.
2- Never dispose of damp or wet oil rags in trash cans or trash bags with other trash.
3- Store the rags in an airtight, non-combustible metal container. If you plan to use your rags later, this step is critical. The metal container should be filled with a solution of water and an oil breakdown detergent.
4- Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations. Since manufacturers use different oils in their products, it’s important to follow their warnings and disposal instructions. They may differ from manufacturer to manufacturer. https://youtu.be/9yq6VW-c2Ts