A condominium resident near Sunriver found a Dumpster fire Tuesday evening and alerted neighbors, who helped contain the blaze. Investigators traced the fire to spontaneous combustion of disposed-of debris from painting and deck-staining work.
La Pine Rural Fire District crews responded around 7:20 p.m. to a fire at Powder Village Condominiums at 56856 Enterprise Drive in the Sunriver Business Park, officials said.
They arrived to find residents trying to put out a dumpster fire with portable fire extinguishers, the fire district said, noting that the flames threatened the condos and nearby forestland.
An investigation determined that painters from CTS Remodeling and Clearwater Construction had been painting the building and staining the decks, respectively, and apparently debris containing paint and oils had been put in the Dumpster spontaneously combusted.
Resident Hannahshae Morgan discovered the fire when she returned home, called 911 and altered neighbors, who used the extinguishers to keep the fire in check until crews arrived. Fortunately, they said, the fire and damage was limited to the Dumpster.
Fire officials cautioned that rags, paint brushes, paper towels, drop clothes and other items containing paint and stain made with an organic oil (animal, wood or plant-based oil) are very susceptible to spontaneous combustion when disposed of improperly.
The safest methods of disposal are to soak them in water, then place in a metal can with a tight-fitting metal lid, officials said. Lay or spread rags out on a non-combustible surface, preferably outside, or hang them on a clothes line and let them dry completely before disposal.
Also, they said, dumpsters should always be located so that an unexpected fire would not be able to spread to buildings or property.