Solvent-soaked rags left in an office overnight caused a fire at a William Street building this morning, according to the Port Chester Fire Department.
Port Chester dodged because of two main factors, according to fire Chief Kevin McFadden -- several people working late in a ground-floor recording studio smelled smoke and dialed 911, and a sprinkler system kicked in to knock down most of the fire before firefighters arrived.
Firefighters responded to 200 William St. at 12:05 a.m. after the recording studio employees cleared the building and reported the fire. The employees smelled smoke and saw water coming down from the ceiling, McFadden said.
It's not unusual for firefighters to come across old sprinkler systems that don't work because the heads have been painted over or the sprinklers have been neglected, McFadden said. In this case, the sprinkler system worked perfectly.
"If that fire had gone undetected or the sprinklers had not worked, we would have had a major fire," the chief said.
The cause? Spontaneous combustion.
Contractors who had been working in a third-floor office loft left polyurethane-soaked rags out in the open next to cans and dust from a commercial sander. The rags and dust ignited, starting the fire. Such fires are rare, but not unheard of.
Inspectors from the Department of Code Enforcement were on-scene, McFadden said, although it's not yet clear if there are violations in the office building.
Some 20 firefighters responded to the early morning call, using three engines and a ladder rescue truck. Two additional companies remained on standby, McFadden said. Firefighters also handled two more calls in the two-and-a-half hours they were on scene, both false alarms.
Check back with Port Chester Patch for updates.
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