Crouch Hill woman has lucky escape after cleaning rag spontaneously combusts

PUBLISHED: 20:43 11 June 2013 | UPDATED: 20:43 11 June 2013

The woman was using linseed oil to clean her furniture.

The woman was using linseed oil to clean her furniture.


A woman had a lucky escape after a pile rags spontaneously combusted in her home.

In a rare phenomenon know as ‘self-heating’ the linseed oil she was using to polish her furniture earlier in the day burst into the flames in the middle of the night.

The woman was only woken up by her smoke alarm, which allowed her to escape her home in Trinder Road, Crouch Hill, with her life.

Two fire engines and around 10 firefighters from Holloway Station tackled the fire on June 5, but a large part of the ground floor was damaged.

Oil in fabrics heating up and catching fire is not common, but there are a few cases across London each year.

Adam Colebrooke-Taylor, watch manager at Holloway fire station who was at the scene, said: “There’s no doubt that the smoke alarm saved the woman’s life. Given the fire started in the middle of the night and spread quickly, this could have ended tragically if it hadn’t have been for the alarm that woke her up and gave her time to escape from her property safely. Self heating is a rare cause of fire, so having a smoke alarm is essential as you never know when a freak accident might occur.”

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