HONESDALE— Firefighters rushed into action May 10 to manage a second-story fire on Court Street.

Honesdale Fire Department (HFD) received the alert just after 10 a.m. and were on the scene within two and a half minutes, said Fire Chief Steve Bates.

“We had the fire knocked down within about 15 minutes...,” said the chief, noting the whole scene was just about cleared within an hour of the initial call.

Roughly 15 members of the department answered the call.

Bates noted the fire started in an upstairs room to which the fire damage was contained, though the entire upstairs was damaged by smoke.

He identified the cause of the fire as being a pile of drying varnish rags left in a pile. The property owner was in the process of remodeling the upstairs apartment.

Bates cautioned homeowners performing similar renovations to be sure to dispose of used rags appropriately.

“The biggest thing is put rags in fireproof containers and make sure they're set outside.”

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), oil-based paints, stains and varnishes generate heat while drying.

If left piled, the heat cannot dissipate and the rags can catch fire.

No one was injured in the fire and there was no damage to the lower two apartments, said the chief.

“The two bottom tenants are actually not displaced,” he said Friday. “They're going to be able to stay in their apartments tonight.”

He added the second floor, “...will of course be unoccupied until fixed.”

Bates congratulated his fire crews on their timely and thorough response.

Oily Rag Safety

NFPA notes there are an average of 800 home fires each year caused by oily rags catching fire.

To prevent fires caused by oily rags, NFPA recommends hanging oily rags outside, away from a building, to dry.

Weigh them down so they don't blow away.

When storing dried rags, place them in a metal container, filled with water and detergent to break down the oils, and sealed tight.

Store the container in a cool place, out of direct sunlight and away from other heating sources.

NFPA recommends consulting local ordinances for proper disposal.

More information about fire safety is available online at www.nfpa.org.