A Carmichael house was badly burned and occupants of the home had to escape through a window after oil-soaked rags spontaneously combusted and started a raging fire that spread into their attic.
Sacramento Metro firefighters were called at about 2:45 a.m. Monday to the single-story home in the 3800 block of Mission Avenue. Homeowners smelled smoke and were able to exit through a window after a bedroom door was blocked by smoke.
Fire Captain-paramedic Brian Gonsalves said the cause of the fire was linseed oil-soaked rags left in a plastic garbage can. The linseed oil had been used to treat a wooden fence.
The rags, which were next to the house, ignited, sending flames up the side of the house and into the attic. The roof was composed of metal shingles over wooden shakes. The wooden shakes burned under the metal roof, providing plenty of fuel to feed the blaze.
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“It ended up spreading to the entire attic and roof,” said Gonsalves.
Crews put the fire out and spent the morning making sure there were no remaining hotspots.
A firefighter suffered smoke inhalation breathing problems. One of the residents needed a medical evaluation.
Gonsalves said such rags – left over from houshold projects – are a common cause of house fires. Instead of disposing of oil-soaked rags in plastic containers, residents should soak them in water in an airtight metal container away from anything flammable, he said.
He also urged people to make sure homes are equipped with working smoke detectors. The Carmichael residents did not have one, and Gonsalves said they were lucky to have escaped.
“Normally people fall asleep from the gases before they smell the smoke,” he said.