Spontaneous combustion of dirty rags attributed to Camden late-night fire

Posted:  Monday, November 5, 2018 - 11:15am

Story Location:
50 chestnut street
camden  Maine
United States

CAMDEN — Dirty rags in a pile near a restaurant bar resulted in a fire in the former Francine Restaurant on Chestnut Street, in Camden, Monday night, Nov. 4, soon after 10 p.m.

Neighbors across the street in downtown Camden noticed a glow coming from the interior of the empty building. Camden firefighters arrived at the small building to find flames burning along the floor and up into the corner of the wooden bar.

Firefighters quickly extinguished the flames with water, and attributed its cause to a pile of rags that had been piled nearby after being used for cleaning or varnishing, according to Camden Fire Chief Chris Farley.

The restaurant is currently being renovated and is a construction site.

Farley said the fire likely started from spontaneous combustion from the chemical-soaked rags, and construction site inattention.

Properly dispose of dirty rags, he said, and, in general, “clean up the job site.”

That includes unplugging extension cords, he added.

Approximately eight to 12 Camden firefighters responded to the call, as did a similar number of Rockport firefighters. Because it was a structure fire, the region’s mutual aid system kicked in, and Hope and Lincolnville also geared up to respond.

Camden signaled no need for Hope and Lincolnville, but asked Rockport to remain at the scene for a short duration.

Soon after returning to the fire station, another fire call came for Camden, this time at 12:09 a.m. to a home on Start Road. There, the smoke detector was sounding.

The detector was apparently malfunctioning. Farley encouraged all property owners to change their fire alarms within the 10-year-equipment replacement recommendation. The fire alarm on Start Road was 15 years old, he said.

Reach Editorial Director Lynda Clancy at lyndaclancy@penbaypilot.com; 207-706-6657