Several buildings caught fire at Camp Mah-Kee-Nac in Stockbridge

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Stained rags start fire at Camp Mah-Kee-Nac

STOCKBRIDGE, Mass. (WWLP) – Crews extinguished an eight cabin fire that was caused by the improper disposal of oily rags at a summer camp in Stockbridge on Thursday.

Massachusetts Fire Department information officer Jennifer Mieth told 22News that staff at Camp Mah-Kee-Nac were staining the property and the oily rags were stored in one of the cabins overnight. The chemicals evaporate and can generate heat when used, then with improper disposal rags that are balled up or mixed with other waste can spontaneously ignite.

Stockbridge Fire Chief Vincent J. Garofoli and State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey said the cause of the fire at Camp Mah-Kee-Nac, a summer camp in Stockbridge, was the improper disposal of oily rags. Eight cabins were destroyed, including one used to store pool chemicals.

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) oversaw the disposal of the remaining chemicals by a private hazardous materials removal contractor. The state hazardous materials team monitored the fire field for safety reasons. Swimming pool chemicals can cause toxic chlorine fumes when wet.

A firefighter was treated and released from hospital with injuries from the blaze.

Many people don’t know that oily rags can spontaneously burn. Learn how to handle and dispose of them safely.

Oily rags have long been a source of fire because people don’t know they can ignite spontaneously. Proper disposal is essential to prevent oily rag fires.

Safe disposal of oily rags

Oily rags are a source of fire because people don’t know they can ignite spontaneously. Dispose of rags safely in two steps:

  1. Hang them outside to dry in a safe place or lay them out flat making sure they are weighted. They shouldn’t be in a pile.
  2. Once they are dry:
    • For those who use oily cloths daily or weekly: place dry rags in a listed oily waste container to be emptied by a private contractor.
    • For less frequent users: store dry rags in a small airtight, non-combustible container (eg metal) with a tight-fitting lid. An old paint bucket is a good example. Completely cover the rags with a solution of water and oil decomposing detergent. Do not add any other combustible material. Dispose of the container during a hazardous waste collection event.



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