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Litchfield fire blamed on improper disposal of staining rags

LITCHFIELD – The improper disposal of rags used in wood staining led to a fire Monday night that destroyed a barn on Charles Bancroft Highway.

A little after 9 p.m. homeowner Ed Barringer heard "popping" coming from the 30-by-50-foot barn and when he looked out, flames were through the roof, according to a Litchfield Fire–Rescue news release. He immediately called 911.

The barn and its contents, including a 2008 Ford Mustang, were destroyed.

Fire officials said the cause of the fire was accidental. The homeowner had done some wood staining in the afternoon and left the rags and cans of stain out near ordinary combustible materials. The rages produced heat and came in contact with ordinary combustibles in the area, which had plenty of air to start the fire.

Rags, steel wool and other waste soaked with oil finishes may spontaneously catch fire if improperly discarded, fire officials said, citing a safety disclaimer posted on the Minwax© website. Rags and other waste should be placed in a water-filled metal container immediately after use, which should then be tightly sealed and disposed of in accordance with local regulations.

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