Eagleville Fire Rescue Department (EFRD), Rutherford County Fire Rescue (RCFR), Christiana Volunteer Fire Department, Rutherford County Emergency Medical Services, Eagleville Police Department (EPD), and Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office, responded to a fire at the Four Corners Grocery and Deli in Eagleville around 9:30 Sunday night.
EPD units arrived on the scene and reported smoke and flames visible from the store.
EFRD personnel arrived shortly after and began extinguishment efforts which were subsequently assisted by arriving mutual aid units from Rutherford County Fire Rescue and other county responders.
EFRD Chief Jonathan Armstrong says he had one motivation in mind, “We have to stop this fire to control the ripple effect.” Recognizing that not only would people lose their business, but employees would be out of work, patrons who count on that store for groceries would have to adjust, and residents and commuters could lose one of Eagleville’s busiest fuel depots. “I knew the damage could be exponential if we didn’t work quickly to contain the fire.” Armstrong also expressed his appreciation for all incoming Rutherford units who assisted Eagleville in containing the fire.
Despite crews’ best efforts, the fire caused significant damage to the market. Eagleville Mayor Chad Leeman says the community will rally around the business, “In true Eagleville spirit, we as a community, will assist those affected by this loss and move forward through this process together.” Leeman also acknowledged the hard work of the first responders, “We are tremendously grateful for our response team and mutual aid partners.”
Armstrong echoed Mayor Leeman’s community sentiment and said he is hopeful that the business will be able to reopen in the near future. “I hope to see them up and running again in six months or sooner if possible. So many people count on this store for various reasons.”
Cause of fire determined/Warning message for others
Investigators from RCFR’s Fire/Arson Investigation Unit were called to the scene to conduct a routine investigation.
“The fire was determined to be caused by spontaneous combustion of kitchen waste,” said Lt./Asst. Fire Marshal Joshua Sanders. “In this case, multiple rags used in the cleaning of the market’s kitchen were improperly discarded in a bucket inside the kitchen area. The cooking-oil soaked rags are prone to spontaneous heating phenomenon which results when the oils begin to oxidize, creating a significant amount of heat within the material.”
Sanders notes that this is the second time this type of fire occurred at the business. The first, on October 13, 2020, was confined to a clothes dryer containing the same types of rags mentioned above.
“We are not in any way singling out the business,” said Sanders. “This could have happened to anyone. We are merely using this unfortunate situation as an educational opportunity so that others can make informed decisions as well.”
“When heat cannot be dissipated faster than its being generated, ultimately a fire can occur,” he continued. “These fires are all too common and can occur with cooking oils, linseed oils, and certain types of stain.”
Sanders says a good rule of thumb to use when cleaning up cooking oils, using linseed oil, or staining with rags or paper towels is to dispose of them in a closed-top, non-combustible (metal) container with a tight-fitting lid. “An alternative would be to flatten each rag or towel out in a safe location to dry completely before discarding.”
“Heat from clothes dryers has also been known to cause fires with towels and rags due to oil residues on the towels heating up,” he warns. “Businesses should contact professional cleaning companies for proper removal of cooking oil from towels.”