Oily rags combust destroying Tampa home

- The community is rallying around a South Tampa family that lost its home in a Mother's Day fire that killed their two dogs.

Evelyn Erickson is finally getting a chance to see what she can salvage from her family's burned-out house.

"We're getting there little by little. We've had a lot of support from friends and family which has  been amazing and a huge blessing for us, but it's going to take a long time to recover from all  this," Erickson told FOX 13.

The family is still stunned by what caused the fire.

Evelyn's husband, Scott, had just finished staining their front porch with linseed oil and threw some oily rags in the garage.

Hours after the family had left to celebrate the holiday, they got a call that the home was on fire.

"I just fell on the floor to my knees. Your whole world just, you feel like it's coming to an end," Erickson said.

Investigators determined the oily rags had spontaneously combusted.

"There's a chemical reaction that happens as that oil dries. It's an exothermic reaction and it  can just automatically combust," said Jason Penny, a spokesperson for Tampa Fire Rescue. "This is a common thing that people need to know about."

Evelyn Erickson is hoping to spread awareness that this can happen.

In the meantime, the community has set up a fundraiser to help the Erickson family cover the costs of rebuilding their home.


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