Linseed oil cause of Clyde fire call

Fire crews used breathing apparatus while extinguishing a fire which started in this wrecked car inside an industrial building in Alexandra yesterday. Photo by Lynda van Kempen.
Fire crews used breathing apparatus while extinguishing a fire which started in this wrecked car inside an industrial building in Alexandra yesterday. Photo by Lynda van Kempen.
Central Otago firefighters were called to three fires within 12 hours yesterday, at Kokonga, Clyde and Alexandra.

Clyde's Chief Fire Officer Richard Davidson issued a warning about the correct storage of linseed oil, after rags soaked in the oil self-ignited in a garage attached to a Clyde house yesterday morning.

Mr Davidson said the one of the house owners had used the oil on Sunday and placed the used rag into a reusable woven shopping bag, and put it inside a steel cabinet in the garage.

A primary school-aged boy, living in the house, investigated the smell of smoke yesterday morning and found the garage"full of white smoke."

"He did the right thing, immediately shutting the door and phoning 111," Mr Davidson said.

Clyde and Alexandra brigades were called and firefighters used breathing apparatus while investigating the source of the smoke.

The oil, commonly used to protect wood, reacted with oxygen to self-ignite. It was important to keep any cans sealed and dispose carefully of oil-soaked rags, he said.

"Although it hadn't reached the point of exploding intoflames, that would've happened next."

He had attended another fire at Clyde some years ago, also caused when rags soaked with linseed oil self-ignited. An electrical fault was believed to have caused the fire which gutted a garage near a house at Kokonga, Ranfurly Chief Fire Officer James Hazlett said. Two people in the house were treated at the scene for smoke inhalation.

The blaze was attended by Ranfurly and Naseby brigades and a rural fire tanker.

The garage was 30m away from the house but a strong northwest wind pushed the flames towards the building, Mr Hazlett said.

Four or five freezers were in the garage and electrical wiring appeared to have arced.

A second garage, between the house and the burning building, was also damaged and a vehicle inside was scorched, he said.

"Because there was no-one around when we first arrived at the property, but there was obviously people staying at the place, and the house was open, we spent the first 25-30 minutes or so thinking there might be people inside the [burning] garage.

"Then we found the people had taken their pig dogs and moved out of the way of the fire, further down the property."

An industrial building in Boundary Rd, Alexandra, was damaged by smoke after a wrecked car inside part of the shed caught fire.

Stuart McArthur said he rented part of the steel building to people working on cars and thought all the flammable material had been removed from the shell of the wrecked station wagon.

"A spark got in there and it erupted into flames. Luckily, we had two fire extinguishers there and thought it was all out but then it burst back into flames again."

Two Alexandra fire crews used breathing apparatus while fighting the fire, Senior Station Officer Glen Gray said.

Several hundred wooden beehive boxes in an adjoining bay of the shed were undamaged.