Officials: Blaze that destroyed Saugus home caused by spontaneous combustion of staining rags

SAUGUS, MASS. (WHDH) - A massive blaze that tore through a house in Saugus on Tuesday while the homeowners were away was caused by the spontaneous combustion of staining rags left next to a propane tank, fire officials said.

The multi-alarm fire that broke out at 81 Juniper Drive before 1 p.m quickly engulfed the home, causing and an estimated $750,000 in damage, according to State Fire Marshal Peter Ostroskey and Saugus Fire Chief Michael Newbury.

Elaine DeJesus, Alexandre Silva, and their 11-year-old son had been away for two weeks on a religious mission in Brazil, but officials say workers had been in the house over the past few days painting and refinishing floors.

The fire started on the rear deck, where there were supplies, including a pile of rags that workers had been using, according to officials.

“It is important to dispose of oily rags by hanging or spreading them out flat outdoors,” Newbury said in a press release. “Professionals should dispose of them in a listed oily waste container and do-it-yourselfers should put them in an airtight container with a lid like a paint can and cover them with a solution of detergent and water. Then dispose of at a hazardous waste collection event.”

No serious injuries were reported. Two firefighters were treated for heat exhaustion.

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