Combe Raleigh fire: spontaneous combustion theory

PUBLISHED: 11:36 25 November 2008 | UPDATED: 22:40 15 June 2010

AN oil-soaked cloth is being considered as a possible cause of a fire that destroyed large parts of a Combe Raleigh property.

AN oil-soaked cloth is being considered as a possible cause of a fire that destroyed large parts of a Combe Raleigh property.Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service are still investigating the blaze but one theory under consideration is that an oil-soaked cloth, used for treating timber, spontaneously combusted.At its height, crews from across Devon and some from Dorset were tackling the fire at Combe Hill, which was being renovated.The first call came in at around 2.30am on Wednesday, November 19, which said the fire was in the Awliscombe area, which a fire crew from Honiton was sent to investigate.This was soon followed by more calls which pinpointed the fire in Combe Raleigh, to which two more fire engines were sent.Once on the scene, firefighters called for more assistance, with the roof well alight.Fire engines from across East Devon, two from Tiverton, one from Lyme Regis and water bowsers from Barnstaple, Exeter and Torquay were all called in to tackle the fire.Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus trained hoses on to the blaze that had engulfed more than 75 per cent of the roof and much of the first floor.By 8am, fire crews were being withdrawn and a detailed assessment of the building was carried out.The detached private dwelling, which consisted of three floors and a basement lost around 90 per cent of the roof and 70 per cent of the first floor was severely damaged.Twenty per cent of the ground floor was also damaged by smoke and heat.Fire crews remained on the scene throughout the day, with thermal imaging cameras being used to identify hot spots.A further inspection was carried out the next morning before fire investigators began their enquiries.A spokesman for DSFRS said: "The cause of the fire is believed to be accidental but investigations are continuing."One theory is that a cloth soaked in oil used to treat the woodwork may have spontaneously combusted, causing the blaze.

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