Food court fire at River Park Square Mall caused by laundered towels

SPOKANE, Wash. - A small fire that broke out early Tuesday morning inside of the River Park Square Mall was caused by towels that were laundered. 

Just after 1 a.m. Tuesday, the Spokane Fire Department responded to a report of a fire coming from the third floor of the River Park Square Mall. Fire crews located smoke in the food court and found a small fire in a plastic bucket that was full of kitchen rags in the kitchen area of Classic Burger. The fire did not spread beyond the bucket. 

Investigators with the SFD Special Investigation Unit says the rags being recently laundered were the cause for the fire. The towels, which are used to wipe out the restaurant's fryers, were washed, dried, and stored in the bucket, causing a chemical reaction and for the towels to ignite despite no heat source.

"This could happen to anyone and happens more often than you think,” says Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer. “These types of fires often occur after items with remnants of oil or cleaning solvents are cleaned and removed from dryers and placed in containers or piled on tables or in closets.”

The fire damage was limited to the five-gallon bucket and the rags. There was minimal smoke damage to the restaurant and surrounding food court area.