Oily rags likely to blame for Hello Toast fire

'(Canola) will self-heat and combust, especially out of the dryer'

Kamloops Daily News
February 13, 2013 01:00 AM

A tote full of rags that probably had some warm oily residue on them is to blame for the fire that charred the inside of Hello Toast Tuesday night.

Kamloops Fire and Rescue Insp. Dan Funk said the rags were used with canola oil to clean the grill. They were subsequently washed at a cleaner outlet. Normally, oil rags are then rinsed in cold water twice and laid flat to air dry, he said.

But in this case, they went from the dryer into a blue plastic tote. That tote was left in the middle of the restaurant's tile floor Tuesday evening.

It's also where the fire began, he said.

"When firefighters came through the back door, they put out a fire in the middle of the floor. There were no other heat sources," he said.

Canola is a natural combustible oil, he added.

"It will self-heat and combust, especially out of the dryer," said Funk.

The rags were stacked up on top of each other, which promotes heating even more.

The blaze damaged a cooler and the floor where the fire flared up. But staff normally set the tote on a shelf, where the walls could have caught fire.

"That would have been substantially different, huge loss. This was in the middle of the floor with stainless steel appliances around it," said Funk.

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