Oily rags left in the garage of a Mountain Park home sparked a blaze that caused $170,000 in damages but no injuries early Saturday morning.
Lake Oswego firefighters responded to the fire at 97 Garibaldi St. at about 3:20 a.m. Saturday. When crews arrived, they found the 3,500-square-foot home's garage engulfed in flames.
The husband and wife inside the house awoke to the smell of smoke and had already safely escaped when firefighters arrived, said Lake Oswego Fire Department Battalion Chief David Morris. The sound and smell of the fire also woke up neighbors, who made the call to 9-1-1. There were no pets to worry about, and the couple's children are adults and don't live at home, Morris said.
He said the house will need some restoration work before it's comfortably habitable again. Although the fire was contained to the attached garage and an attic space, the home's interior suffered some smoke and water damage.
Also, Morris said, 'Everything in the garage was a total loss,' including the couple's two cars.
The cause: Improperly discarded rags used to stain a deck over the weekend.
Morris said many people don't realize that oil-soaked rags can spontaneously combust, even in somewhat cool, damp weather. He said they should be stored in metal containers with tight lids or laid out on a noncombustible surface in a well-ventilated area.
No firefighters were injured in the incident, although the blaze was somewhat challenging to extinguish, he added.
A second alarm was called because another crew was needed to keep the fire from spreading to other homes and because of the steep terrain; the house is perched on a hill.
In addition, while the house's electrical circuits had tripped, the electrical feed from the street hadn't stopped.
'So while we were fighting the fire in the garage it was like a fireworks display from electricity hitting the water and burning,' Morris said. 'In this scenario, there was also a propane tank helping to fuel the fire in the garage.'