PLYMOUTH — Chief G. Edward Bradley reports that the Plymouth Fire Department battled a building fire early Saturday morning that an investigation indicates was caused by oil-soaked rags from woodworking stain.
No residents were home at the time, as the family was reportedly out of state for the season. Chief Bradley and the Plymouth Fire Department investigation found evidence that painters were conducting woodwork in the home and had apparent disposed of their oily rags in a trash bag, and the rags spontaneously combusted, causing a fire that exceeded $250,000 in damages to the home. No one was injured, in part thanks to an advanced thermal camera that Plymouth firefighters have built into their air masks that helped them identify a dangerous hazard while they were conducting their initial search for occupants.
“Our firefighters performed their duties with the utmost professionalism and skill early Saturday morning,” Chief Bradley said. “This was an aggressive fire, with extremely hot conditions and thick black smoke that made fighting the fire and searching for victims extremely difficult. This fire should also serve as a reminder to our community that materials used in woodworking and wood staining must be handled and disposed of in the proper manner.
Firefighters responded at 2:41 a.m. for a reported building fire at 80 Nautical Way. Multiple 911 calls were received indicating smoke coming from the residence.
Plymouth Ladder 2, Engine 6 and Rescue 1 were dispatched and arrived within minutes, reporting heavy black smoke billowing from the home. A working fire response was ordered.
The crew from Engine 6 made entry through a garage and found heavy fire in the basement. They began to attack the fire using an hand line. Ladder 2’s crew commenced a search for occupants, but no one was inside.
The Ladder 2 crew reported poor visibility due to smoke and high heat conditions, but using the their integrated 3M Scott Sight thermal imaging cameras that are built into their masks, the firefighters made note that the fire had actually appeared to begin on the first floor, and it burned a hole in the floor into the basement, creating a very dangerous condition that was detected in no small part thanks to the advanced technology of the Scott Sight that is embedded into the mask of every Plymouth firefighter.
“In a completely blackened and smoke-filled room, the Scott Sight allowed our firefighters to ‘see’ a hole burned through the floor, which saved them from possibly falling through the floor and into the raging fire below,” Chief Bradley said. “This is an example of professional firefighters, using their training and the equipment at their disposal to do their jobs effectively and avert a potential tragedy.”
The Plymouth Fire Department is grateful for the support of the Town Manager, Selectboard and Town Meeting Members that approved the funds to purchase the Scott Site technology. Plymouth became the first community to outfit all of its firefighters with this technology when town Meeting approved the funding of the Scott Sight masks as a capital expense in 2017, and the software was just updated as recently as last week.
The fire was declared under control at 3:50 a.m. The Bourne Fire Department provided mutual aid by way of station coverage.
The Plymouth fire investigators and investigators from the State Fire Marshal’s office who responded to the scene quickly determined that painters were using stain to perform woodworking improvements to the home. Cloths saturated with stain were packed into a trash bag and apparently left on the first floor. The cloths caught fire and burned completely through the floor, spilling out into the basement. With no one home, the fire smoldered and burned for an undermined amount of time before it was noticed and reported to officials.
The home sustained heavy smoke damage throughout the building and fire damage on the first floor and the basement. The home was built in 2018 and assessed at $478,700 by the Town of Plymouth.