Oily cloths start smouldering

Queenstown fire volunteers approach Halo cafe in central Queenstown yesterday. Photo: David Williams
Queenstown fire volunteers approach Halo cafe in central Queenstown yesterday. Photo: David Williams
Smouldering tea towels at a Queenstown cafe have sparked a fire callout - and a warning for hospitality businesses.

Queenstown fire volunteers were called to Halo cafe, in Earl St, next to St Peter's Church, just before noon yesterday.

Cafe owner Claire Gourlay, of Arrowtown, who called the Fire Service, said the tea towels, which were thought to have absorbed some oil, had started smouldering inside a locker. Oily cloths are capable of reacting with oxygen and igniting.

There was a similar situation last month when towels containing massage oil spontaneously combusted in a drier at Nadi Wellness Centre, on Stanley St.

Mrs Gourlay said: ''One of our kitchen staff has probably mopped up some oil and then the tea towels have been washed and then they'll be tumble-dried, but they just retain the heat, I guess.''

She reiterated to Halo's kitchen staff not to mop up oil spills with tea towels.

''It's a little heads-up for us and then maybe for other businesses around town, because it's not one that you'd possibly think about, really, until it happens.''

Halo was evacuated until the problem was found and the smoke cleared. It was open again an hour later.

There was no damage, Mrs Gourlay said.

david.williams@odt.co.nz

Add a Comment

Our journalists are your neighbours

We are the South's eyes and ears in crucial council meetings, at court hearings, on the sidelines of sporting events and on the frontline of breaking news.

As our region faces uncharted waters in the wake of a global pandemic, Otago Daily Times continues to bring you local stories that matter.

We employ local journalists and photographers to tell your stories, as other outlets cut local coverage in favour of stories told out of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

You can help us continue to bring you local news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter