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Fire started by rag left on table

Trail Bay Mall
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Christine Wood Photo

This store called Slõ in Trail Bay Mall was the scene of an unusual fire on Saturday morning, Dec. 14.

Kirk Michael, owner of Slõ in Trail Bay Mall, never thought a last-minute furniture touch-up would start a fire hours after the work was done.

The local woodworker was trying to finish a $4,000 wooden table for a client in West Vancouver last Friday night (Dec. 13) when he tried out a new high-end furniture oil called Livos at his store.

Michael said his client wanted a lighter looking finish than his homemade beeswax and walnut oil polish would provide, so he decided to “try something new.”

He was pleased with the look of the table and left it for the night with a cloth containing Livos placed on top.

“He didn’t dispose of the rags properly and they spontaneously combusted,” said Sechelt fire Chief Bill Higgs.

“If you get natural cloth rags like cotton and linen and have either this linseed oil or tung oil [contained in Livos] on there and you don’t open up the rag later on or dispose of it in a metal container, it will start producing heat. It was all bunched up and that’s what happened.”

The table caught fire, as did some smaller wooden pieces placed nearby and a rug beneath the table.

“People came in at about 6 a.m. to open the bakery up and they could smell something was wrong,” Higgs said. “They went down and looked and sure enough that place with all the wood products, Slõ, was fully charged with thick black smoke inside there.”

Higgs said that because the fire was “kind of a smouldering fire” it didn’t trigger the sprinkler system, which is heat activated.

“It had never built to the point where the sprinkler had fused, but boy, did we have a chore getting the smoke out of there without putting it in the rest of the mall,” Higgs said.

Michael is thankful for the assistance of the fire department and the owners of the mall who have allowed him to move to a temporary location beside the Dollar Store while his former space is cleared and cleaned.

He said most of his wooden pieces have sustained smoke damage and many may have to be refinished before they can be sold.

Michael noted he usually doesn’t do any woodworking at the store and that he will be much more careful with products like Livos in the future.


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