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    Saugus fire caused by spontaneous combustion of oily rags

    Firefighters from at least seven fire departments worked to put out a three-alarm fire in Saugus Tuesday afternoon.
    Mike Leary
    Firefighters from at least seven fire departments worked to put out a three-alarm fire in Saugus Tuesday afternoon.

    A three-alarm fire at a Saugus home Tuesday afternoon was sparked by the spontaneous combustion of rags that were being used to stain the back deck, according to a statement released by the Department of Fire Services Wednesday.

    The fire caused around $750,000 in damages and took about three hours to put out, authorities said.

    Fire departments from Saugus, Wakefield, Melrose, Lynn, Malden, Revere, and Massport reported to 81 Juniper Drive in Saugus around 12:39 p.m. Tuesday to battle the fire, which had spread throughout the house, Saugus Fire Chief Michael Newbury said in a telephone interview.

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    Firefighters worked under the sun in temperatures of upward of 90 degrees to put out the fire. Two firefighters were treated for heat exhaustion, but they are now safe, Newbury said.

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    The three-bedroom house was valued at $627,400 by the Saugus Assessors Office, according to records.

    Workers had spent the previous few days painting and refinishing the area around the back deck of the house, where they were keeping their supplies, including a pile of rags, the statement said.

    “It is important to dispose of oily rags by hanging or spreading them out flat outdoors,” Newbury said in the statement. “Professionals should dispose of them in a listed oily waste container and do-it-yourselfers should put them in an airtight container with a lid like a paint can and cover them with a solution of detergent and water. Then dispose of [them] at a hazardous waste collection event.”

    Andres Picon can be reached at andres.picon@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @andpicon.