A pile of rags soaked in wood stain spontaneously ignited Monday, starting a blaze that gutted a furniture warehouse and required the largest fire emergency response in the county this year, fire officials said.
About 80 firefighters battled for more than an hour to control the fire that began at 2:50 a.m. at the Oak Gallery store in the 23400 block of Avenida de la Carlota, Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Dan Young said.
"Wood stain is made of hydrocarbons and organic materials, like animal fat, to cure and dry the wood," Young said. "The organic materials decompose rapidly, and when you have a pile of rags, they generate heat in the center of the pile and a fire is ignited.
"Unfortunately, we have a number of these fires each year."
Fire officials estimated the damage at $704,000.
"It was completely destroyed," Young said. "There was nothing salvageable in that building."
No one was injured.
Fire officials said such fires can be avoided by rinsing and drying such rags before discarding them.