Spontaneous Combustion

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It seems that every day is the same as the one before. We're still sweating and our lawns are not seeing any moisture. The conditions have prompted area fire departments to issue a high fire warning.

15-year-old Justin Tratnik of Machesney Park didn't know why a stranger was beating down his door, but he's thankful he did.

Justin Tratnik was home when a fire started behind his family’s garage. Justin says, "I ran inside, got the cat and the dogs out then I moved the car. I moved my dad's bike and then all I could do was sit back and watch."

But who ever thought $50,000 worth of damage would be caused by spontaneous combustion.

Justin stated, "I was thinking me, people were saying me but when they said it was garbage cans I was happy."

Barbara Tratnik, Justin’s mom says, "He's home alone all I could think about is what could of happened then you find out it's in the garbage can."

The Harlem-Roscoe Fire Department has determined that an oily rag provided the fuel to set the cans on fire. You see the garbage cans are close to the house and also in a spot that is rarely in the shade.

Chief Oscar Preseley stated, "Oily rags things like that put them in metal container and close them with a lid so it's airtight so it won't start a fire."

But that's not the only lid that should be closed tightly.

Andrea recalls, "The firemen said you are supposed to keep your lids on the cans but we never knew that."

Chief Preseley replies by saying, "The lid will keep it more air tight so it can't breathe and keep going. But it’s not a good idea to leave garbage in garage or out behind house."

Spontaneous combustion, it’s a pretty tough lesson to learn but one that the Tratnik family will remember as they re-build after an impromptu ignition.

The Harlem-Roscoe Fire Department also warns us as we head into the 4th of July weekend to watch our grills. And for smokers to not throw their cigarette butts out the window.