Tea towels self combust to cause Peterborough pub fire

Firefighters who were sent to put out a fire caused by tea towels.
Firefighters who were sent to put out a fire caused by tea towels.
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Monday 5pm: Spontaneously combusting tea towels caused a fire in a Peterborough pub at the weekend.

The fire started at The Gordon Arms in Oundle Road, Orton Longueville at 8am on Sunday (February 8).

Duty manager Rob Hayre, 36, smelled smoke and dragged a tumble dryer into the car park thinking it was at fault on Saturday night - but the following morning staff found the utility room still full of smoke.

Two firecrews were sent and discovered a pile of industrial tea towels which had caught fire from within the stack.

The hot items, which were folded on top of one another for a number of hours, had started to smoulder which caused them to burst into flames.

Rob said: “We were told they acted like a haystack fire would - damp hay gets warmer and warmer, dries out and then ignites.

“They were thick industrial ones, they keep the heat out but they also keep the heat in.

“We can laugh about it now but we are certainly going to be more careful in future, we had no idea it could happen.”

The fire was restricted just to the utility room which is covered in tiles and stopped the flames spreading.

Fire brigade spokesman Darren Thompson said: “It is believed that the tea towels - which had been exposed to kitchen oils and grease - were folded while hot, causing them to self-heat and a fire to start.

“Although this type of fire is rare, we would like to remind those in the catering industry to ensure they wash towels correctly to remove all traces of fats and oils and therefore minimise the risk of this type of incident.”