Combustion of Oily Rags Causes $1.5 Million Yacht Fire

The Pegasus yacht pictured on fire at 0322 local time, just before the arrival of firefighters at the vessel’s berth. Photo: Gig Harbor Police Department via NTSB

Combustion of Oily Rags Causes $1.5 Million Yacht Fire

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 4698
June 20, 2023

The National Transportation Safety Board has released its report into a fire on board the private yacht Pegasus in Gig Harbor, Washington last year.

The report highlights the fire hazards of improperly stored oily rags on vessels.

The Pegasus caught fire on July 15, 2022, while moored at the Peninsula Yacht Basin in Gig Harbor, Washington. The fire burned for about an hour before it was reported, and by the time firefighters arrived, the fire had engulfed the aft section of the vessel. The Pegasus, valued at about $1.5 million, was declared a total loss.

No injuries were reported.

NTSB determined the fire aboard the Pegasus was caused by spontaneous combustion due to the self-heating of used oil-soaked rags that had been improperly disposed of. The day before the fire a bag with rags soaked with a raw-linseed-oil product was left under a table on the aft deck.

“Rags soaked with oil-based finishes, which are commonly used for painting and refinishing, pose a fire hazard if stored improperly,” the NTSB report said. “Because they generate heat as they dry, oily rags that are piled up, put together in a trash can, or bagged do not allow the heat to escape, creating a high risk for spontaneous combustion.”

To prevent a fire, mariners using oil-based products (or any chemical product) should carefully follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleanup and disposal of rags, steel wool, brushes and other applicators.

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