Towel spontaneously combusts at Wirral house

Fire crews were called to a house in Wirral after a towel spontaneously combusted.

The owners of the property in Dickens Avenue, Prenton, had been painting and spilt linseed oil on the floor just before the fire on Sunday morning.

It was mopped up with a towel, but as it dried the oil reacted with the air and burst into flames.

No one was injured but there was light smoke damage to the first floor bedroom where the incident took place.


Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service said the fire had been put out when they arrived and they ventilated the semi-detached house to clear it of smoke.

Watch Manager Andy Blythe, who attended the call-out, said: "Linseed oil had been spilt while one of the occupiers was painting and this had been mopped up with a towel.

"As the linseed oil oxidised there appears to have been an exothermic reaction and it self-combusted.

"This is the first time I have been to a call-out like this."

Oil-soaked rags are a dangerous combustion hazard because as the oil oxidises it can generate heat.

If the heat cannot escape, it can build up and ignite the rags.

Fire safety advice is to use a brush to apply oil or stain instead as they are easier to clean and store.

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