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Keeping your home safe from fires

Fires around the Valley seems to be all too common in the summer months.

Fires around the Valley seems to be all too common in the summer months.

We've heard of accidental, electric, and arson fires, but what about spontaneous combustion? It may seem rare, but it’s believed to be the cause of a fire at a cotton gin in Raymondville.

Spontaneous combustion is the sudden and unexpected start of a fire without an accelerant, or something that would set the blaze. This can happen often with wheat, cotton, and other industrial products. But these fires could even be sparked around your home.

“Those oily rags will create heat within the rag itself and can cause a fire. The same thing with hay. People who bale hay and it's wet and then it's baled, that can also create a chemical reaction," said Cameron County Fire Marshal Juan Martinez.

Now for an item to spontaneously combust, there are a number of thresholds that need to be met. The atmosphere needs to have a certain balance of heat and humidity. It also cannot happen to just anything, so don't worry, your lawn mower full of gasoline is fairly safe from this threat.

Fire officials encourage residents to dry out old oily rags that may have been used in your garage or workshop on concrete, and keep them away from dry grass or brush.

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