A fire that ignited in a pile of oily rags at East Side Wings and Grill caused a lot of smoke, but could have been much worse, said a Watertown Fire official.
At about 9 a.m. on Sept. 26, a nearby business owner spotted smoke inside the eatery at 613 Mt. Auburn Street and called the fire department. Firefighters discovered smoking coming from a bathroom where a bag of oily rags appeared to have spontaneously ignited, said Watertown Deputy Fire Chief Thomas McManus.
"The rags were in a bag hanging in a bathroom. They burned through the bag and dropped down and scorched the floor," McManus said. "They only reason why there was no further damage was there was no nearby combustible material. If there were (flammable materials) it could have been a serious incident effecting a whole block of storefronts."
The oily rags had been used to clean grease from around the grill and fryer at East Side Wings, McManus said. The rags had been cleaned, but apparently not completely.
"Sometimes oily rags, if they have not gotten all the oil out, will ignite," McManus said.
McManus said he has seen spontaneously ignited fires in other situations, such as when people clean gutters with linseed oil or when a wood floor is being refinished with polyurethane. All that is needed to start a fire is a little heat, such as from the sun, he said.