Sheets with massage oil spontaneously combust in Seattle basement

A Seattle landlord contacted us after something caught fire in the laundry room of one of her properties.

A Seattle landlord has a cautionary tale about a household product that could pose a fire danger.

Karen Lucht was fixing up one of her rental properties on Capitol Hill when she smelled something coming from the laundry room in the basement.

“There was no smoke, there weren't any flames but there was something in the air,” she said. “You could tell there were particulates in the air.”

She couldn't figure out what it was, but when the firefighters arrived, they zeroed in on her tenant's backpack they pulled from the laundry room. The backpack was filled with freshly washed sheets.

Lucht pulled out her cell phone and recorded video as firefighters slowly pulled back the zipper and pulled out the sheets and right away they knew they found the source.

Lucht's tenant is a massage therapist. Hours earlier, he had pulled the sheets from the dryer and stuffed them into the backpack. The residual massage oil is what combusted and caught fire.

“It actually happens quite often,” said Captain Kyle Ohashi with Kent Fire Department.

Ohashi said people are unaware of how combustible organic oils can be, like massage and linseed oils, especially on cotton sheets or rags that can easily catch fire.

“A chemical reaction begins to occur, that heat gets generated. If that heat can't dissipate, then it will cause the material to catch on fire,” said Ohashi.

He advises putting the rags in an air tight fire proof container, or in the case of the newly washed sheets, allowing the residual oil to evaporate.

“I'm thinking how lucky we were. How truly lucky,” Lucht said.

Copyright 2016 KING


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