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CHARLESTOWN — Officials said a fire that erupted in the utility workroom of a Pietila Road home Monday night was likely caused by staining rags that had been used earlier in the day, but a closed door helped prevent the blaze from spreading and limited damage to the home.

Charlestown Fire Chief Don Rathbone said Thursday that the fire was accidental and probably caused by "staining rags that had appeared to spontaneously combust." The rags had been used earlier in the day to apply stain to maple tabletops, he said.

Rathbone said fire detectors warned the tenant, and a closed door to the workshop, in the corner of the lower floor, held the blaze at bay until firefighters arrived.

"If that door or the window to the room had been open, we would have been dealing with a much different situation," Rathbone said. "Fortunately, the damage was limited because although the fire caused a heat situation, it did not spread beyond where it began."

Firefighters with the Charlestown-Richmond and Cross Mills fire departments, aided by members of the Hope Valley Fire Department, personnel with the Charlestown Ambulance Rescue Service and Charlestown police, were called to the home just after 11 p.m.

The tenant had evacuated the home and told firefighters the location of the fire. Volunteers established two lines, one to the lower level and a second to the upper level of the ranch-style home, but only needed the lower-level hose to combat the blaze, Rathbone said. The fire was knocked down within 30 minutes, and firefighters helped to alleviate smoke on the second floor. Officials said the tenant appeared to make other arrangements for the evening, but would not be displaced for long.

jvallee@thewesterlysun.com

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