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Fire damages OR Eagles lodge

A fire that appears to have started with oily rags being stored improperly in a kitchen caused heavy damage to the Fraternal Order of Eagles building on the Oak Ridge Turnpike early Saturday, and the structure may have to be rebuilt, according to the Oak Ridge Fire Department.

The fire was reported at about 2 a.m. Saturday at 1650 Oak Ridge Turnpike.

There was heavy smoke coming out of all sides of the building when firefighters arrived.

An Eagles member said the building had an alarm system, but there is no record of the alarm company calling 911 to report the fire, the Oak Ridge Fire Department said in a press release. Instead, a passing motorist saw the heavy smoke coming from the building and called 911 to report the fire.

The fire had spread throughout the upper levels of the structure, damaging the steel support beams, and the remainder of the business suffered moderate heat, smoke, and water damage,” the press release said.

Four fire engines and the tower truck responded to the fire along with two rescue trucks, a battalion chief, and 20 firefighters. It took 20 firefighters about 30 minutes to get the fire under control and start removing smoke using fans.

This is the fourth fire in the past four years in Oak Ridge that was started by spontaneous combustion. Discarding oily rags from refinishing furniture, cleaning wood products, working in kitchens, or any other work that involves certain types of organic oil products such as furniture finishing products and cooking oils can begin to create internal heat to the point where the rags ignite. The rags should be kept in a covered metal container or laid out flat so the residue can evaporate prior to being discarded.

The Fire Department said residents and businesses can contact the Fire Marshal’s Office for help in properly storing and disposing of oil-soaked rags.

(Oak Ridge Fire Department release)  For the second time in 20 days, a fire sparked by the improper storage of oily towels has damaged a local business. At approximately 2 a.m. Saturday morning, August 13, 2016, the Oak Ridge Fire Department was dispatched to a report of smoke coming from the structure at 1650 Oak Ridge Turnpike. The Fraternal Order of the Eagles Lodge was on fire. Upon arrival, the fire department found heavy smoke coming from the doors of the building. The fire crew entered through the front and rear doors and quickly extinguished the fire. The structure was unoccupied at the time of the fire and the damage was extensive. A member of the organization stated they had an alarm system, but there is no record of the alarm company calling 911 to report the fire. A passing motorist initially saw the heavy smoke coming from the structure and reported the fire to 911. The fire had spread throughout the upper levels of the structure, damaging the steel support beams and the remainder of the business suffered moderate heat, smoke and water damage. This structure was built in the early 1970’s, according to members of the Lodge, and it was not equipped with sprinklers. On July 22, 2016, (20 days ago) a fire in a furniture shop on Warehouse Road was also started by disposal of oily rags used to refinish furniture. That structure was equipped with sprinklers and the fire caused minor damage. The furniture shop was able to reopen in just a few days. The Eagles Lodge will not be so fortunate. The damage is extensive and the structure may have to be rebuilt. The cause of the fire appears to have been spontaneous combustion from oily rags stored after being laundered. Washing and drying oil soaked rags will not prevent spontaneous combustion. Many times the towels will catch fire while in the dryer. These fires point out two critical safety items worth discussing: 1. Sprinkler systems save lives and property. Many complain about the cost of maintaining a commercial sprinkler system, but the cost is fractional when compared to the loss of a structure, business and local jobs. The Warehouse Road fire in July was another excellent example of the sprinkler system controlling the flames and notifying the fire department for additional response. 2. This is the fourth fire in Oak Ridge in the past four years that was started by spontaneous combustion. Discarding oily rags from refinishing furniture, cleaning wood products, working in kitchens, or any other work that involves certain types of organic oil products such as furniture finishing products and cooking oils can begin to create internal heat to the point where the rags ignite. The rags should be kept in a covered metal container or laid out flat so the residue can evaporate prior to being disposed of. If you have questions or concerns, please feel free to contact our fire marshal’s office for assistance in proper storing and disposal of oil soaked rags.

About Jim Harris

Jim Harris has been WYSH's News & Sports Director since 2000. In addition to reporting local news, he is the play-by-play voice for Clinton High School football, boys' and girls' basketball and baseball. Catch Jim live weekdays beginning at 6:20 am for live local news, sports, weather and traffic plus the Community Bulletin Board, shenanigans with Ron Meredith and more on the Country Club Morning Show on WYSH & WQLA. Jim lives in Clinton with his wife Kelly and daughter Carolina, his mother-in-law and cats Lucius and Oliver.

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