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Thursday, September 12, 2019

House Fire! Started by Steel Wool in the Trash

I ran across this website while researching Fire and Steel Wool.

That said, the caution to properly store steel wool should be obvious, not jumbled up with batteries in a junk drawer. I was cleaning shop and had galvanized fencing, scarp steel, aluminum and some copper, really jammed into the can using a sledge hammer. Of course I cleaned the abrasives cabinet and heavily rusted 0000 fine steel wool was in that whole mess too.

Rain or other liquid got in there, apparently made a battery from the dissimilar metals, lit off the steel wool. By the time that I smelt smoke, and discovered the source of the "smoke" smell, flames were leaping 20' up the side of my house. True story. Neither the Fire Chief or the Fire Inspector was able to determine any cause.

$40,000 damage.

Then my landscape guy came by, saw the fire damage, and asked what started it. I told him a trash fire but no one could figure out how it started. He being an avid, Appalachian Trail type of serious outdoors-man on multi day trips and he uses steel wool for fire starting even in wet conditions. So he asks....did you have any steel wool in there.....BINGO!

So now I store my steel wool in mason jars with gasketed steel lids, just standard canning supplies with wide mouth. Even if for some reason they would light off.....the lack of air supply would keep it to a non-event.


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