Spontaneous combustion caused an early Saturday warehouse fire, according to Portland Fire and Rescue.
Firefighters responded to a routine alarm bell call at 3:26 a.m. at the Unifirst Corpn warehouse, 14321 N.E. Whitaker Street. After they arrived, the firefighters could smell smoke coming from the building. When they entered the warehouse, they found the whole building was full of smoke, according to Lt. Ryan Johnson, who was first on the scene. Luckily. the building was equipped with a sprinkler system which held the fire in check until the firefighters arrived and quickly put it out.
Unifirst is a commercial laundry company that washes shop rags for local companies around town Fire investigators discovered that last load of the day that came out of the dryers were oily shop rags. They were stacked in bins many feet high. Apparently not all the oil was washed out of the rags and it didn't take more than a couple of hours before the stack of rags caught on fire, due to spontaneous combustion, says Paul Corah, the fire bureau's public information officer.
Plant personnel and fire officials are going over plant operations to ensure safe operations in the future. Unifirst will spend the next couple of days rewashing the products on hand to get the smoke smell out. Damages to the building and products are estimated at around $2500.00