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Laundry service fire caused by grease rags

A fire started underneath these rags due to the chemicals left on them. (Courtesy: Medford Fire Rescue)

Medford, Ore. - Just before 7:00 Saturday morning, Medford Fire-Rescue and Jackson County Fire District 3 responded to a fire alarm at American Linen Service Company between Medford and Central Point.

When crews arrived, they found open flames inside and smoke down to shoulder level. Fortunately, a sprinkler system just over the fire kept it relatively contained.

Investigators say the source was some grease rags.

"[Businesses throw the rags] in a bin and then that bin gets emptied in these big bags and ends up here, so if [the rags are] tightly wadded up and not given the opportunity to dry out, they will develop and generate their own heat," Battalion Chief Ron Nelson said.

Nelson says most of the damage from the fire was contained to some bags of rags and some nearby shelves. He also added these types of fires are not uncommon in places that use oils and mixtures that could ignite when heated.

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