MFD: Oily rags spontaneously combust at Memorial Union

Published: Aug. 24, 2022 at 12:05 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Automatic fire sprinklers may have saved Memorial Union from severe fire damage after oily rags spontaneously combusted in a custodial room early Sunday afternoon, Madison Fire says.

According to MFD’s report, firefighters arrived on scene shortly before noon, where they noticed smoke in the first-floor kitchen that was getting thicker.

They then located a custodial room where automatic fire sprinklers had gone off. In the room, they also found piles of oily kitchen rags smoldering.

Memorial Union staff were able to confirm there was a bag of wet rags with oil mixed in inside the room.

Madison fire says they believe the rags spontaneously combusted, leading to the fire that set off the sprinklers.

Firefighters were then able to ventilate the building.

MFD states that without the fire sprinklers, which were installed during recent updates of the building between 2012 and 2017, the fire could’ve grown much larger, which could have led to serious damage to the building.

The only rooms that were damaged was the origin of the fire and an adjacent office.