New Brighton approves preliminary 9% levy increase for 2020

Improperly discarded rags started a small fire inside Irondale High School the night of July 6, according to a report from the New Brighton Department of Public Safety. 

No one was in the building at the time of the incident and no firefighters were injured while responding to the fire.

Firefighters were called to the scene around 9:30 p.m., after a smoke alarm in the school's basement went off and triggered a call to the fire department. Upon arriving at the scene, the city requested backup from the Fridley and Lake Johanna fire departments. 

Firefighers connected a fire engine to the school's sprinkler system and pumped water from a nearby hydrant through the truck to supplement the sprinklers, said Trevor Hamdorf, New Brighton's deputy director of public safety.

According to the report, crews then went into the school and extinguished the rest of the fire. They then stayed on the scene for another 90 minutes, ventilating the space. 

The report estimated that the incident caused $5,000 in property damage. An earlier statement from the fire department said that most of the damage was contained within the fire's immediate vicinity.

Staffers had refinished the gymnasium floor on Friday, July 5, and discarded chemical-laden rags in an open container that is "consistent with the origin of the fire," according to the city report. 

According to the National Fire Prevention Association, oily or stain-soaked rags release heat as they dry. If left in a pile in an open container the rags can heat to the liquid's combustion point, starting a fire.

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