State Fire Marshal worries spring cleaning could spark fires

BATON ROUGE, LA — The Louisiana State Fire Marshal’s Office is warning everyone who is preparing to do some spring cleaning.  But State Fire Marshal Butch Browning is also urging people to be careful with paints, varnishes, and chemicals that are used for cleaning.

Browning says the paints and chemical can sometimes spontaneously combust, causing fires.  In fact, the National Fire Protection Association says every year, more than 14,000  fires occur due to spontaneous ignition.

Towels that are covered in chemicals like linseed and turpentine are the most common causes of the fire.  The fire marshal’s office says last week, there were three fires in Louisiana that were started by chemicals and cleaning rags.  One of the cases occurred inside a hospital in Jonesboro with a bucket of rags that had been used to clean kitchen appliances.  Another case happened in Prairieville where rags that were used to stain wood were left inside a garbage can overnight.  Nobody was hurt in either fire.

Here are some tips to help avoid spontaneous combustion fires from the fire marshal’s office.

  • Never discard oily rags together in any kind of container right after use
  • Thoroughly and individually dry rags outside on concrete and out of direct sunlight before disposal
  • Fill a metal can with water, place the rags into the can then secure the can closed before disposing
  • Never leave disposal cans and/or buckets with oily rags indoors, including in garages

The Louisiana State Fire Marshal’s Office also provided the photos below of the fires reported in Jonesboro and Prairieville.


Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.