I have seen some pretty strange things in life! Do you know, I actually saw "Ball lightening"? Apparently that is a rare sight. I have seen Ruby silver, a "haunted Glory Hole", lived through the highest annual snow fall ever recorded at a weather station. I have seen (and picked) mushrooms worth $100 a lb. I have seen high tide that would flood so much, sidewalks were built with steps to higher ground. I have seen the return of a Bush pilot, who survived a crash that made Ripley's" Believe it or not". In truth, I think I have led a pretty interesting life, full of amazing things.
But....I have seen something so many times, the average human being never sees. That is spontaneous combustion. I have encountered it so many times, it actually became something we had to warn new Housekeepers about. Who knew that a job like cleaning would require a person to be on the look out for fires? I remember the first fire I had. I simply took the kitchen cleaning rags out of the dryer, and placed them on the folding table. I must have been in the middle of something else, went away, only to smell something from the hallway, that was not right. I did not believe my eyes when I entered the laundry room, my recently dried kitchen rags were smoldering on the table. I didn't know what to do, looking around, all I spied were plastic buckets. Now, I have been called "Blonde" more than once, I knew plastic would not suffice, but it was all I had. I threw the rags into a bucket, and rushed them out the door. They were damn hot, smoke rising, and the nasty smell of baking grease..I dumped the bucket out on the gravel, and watched the rags disappear, until there was nothing left but charred black bits. This happened continually. The kitchen staff insisted on cleaning the grill with cloths, and then expected us to wash and dry them. Hey, do you know wash machines have warnings on the lids? These warning state that you do NOT under any circumstances wash grease, because it may cause fires, trust me, there is no MAY about it
The unspoken or sometimes spoken rule, was to never ever leave kitchen rags in the dryer. We had 2 ginormous Gas dryers from back in 60's. They would never die, somehow no matter what, they could be coaxed back into working. Sheets would dry in about 5 minutes, the heat from the things would cause sweat to pour down our necks. My friend went off to New Orleans, not a problem, she had become acclimatized by her time spent standing in front of the heat from Hell. We hated these dryers, each time a load was done, we would open the doors, and feel the urge to grab oven mitts to remove the dried items. Finger tips would be burned off after a day in laundry, arms would be scorched red from heat burns. But, Lordie, the drying time was instantaneous,they built those dryers to last, and no sensor would kick in to tell the machine when to stop, that was a manual job, simply open the door when you figured they had enough time.
Because they heated so hot, grease rags would go in, and as soon as the door opened and they got a whiff of oxygen, Bazinga!!! I have no clue how many fires we had over the years. We would constantly complain, but, the answer was always..." the kitchen refuses to use paper towels to clean the grill, you are just going to have to be careful". Hah! We tried, but on one day, when my friend and I had the job to ourselves, we both decided to head to the outlying area together. There was a lot to be done, and both of us were needed. I don't know which one of us forgot about the kitchen rags, it doesn't matter, too much on our plates, and it just happened. We did what needed to be done, drove back to the parking lot outside our laundry room, to see a frightening sight. The owner and various others were rushing about, smoke billowed from the laundry room window, "OMG!!!" we did not have to try and figure out what happened, it was obvious. Somehow we had left the dryer door open a tiny bit, just enough to allow air inside, and sure enough, spontaneous combustion!! Flames roared out the dryer door, fire extinguishers were grabbed from every spot, the smoke billowed causing us to attempt to put the fire out hunched over to the floor. Alarms were ringing all about, and all of us idiots were trying to get those damn kitchen rags out of the building. I still shake my head at the stupidity of all of us, no fire truck, no firemen, just employer and employees. We managed to get those rags outside, the smoke damage was nasty, the dryer, well, we thought it was toast, but....a little elbow "grease" and a few wires replaced, the darn thing started no problem.
So... we figured this would be the end of the fire causing issue, nope...the solution to our problem was the removal of the nasty old dryers and nice new fangled front loaders, that would not heat the rags up enough to cause a fire. Now...I know, it would seem to make more sense to stop the rags from getting to the laundry, but, there it is again...you know what I'm talking about....
I hope this is the last of my experience with the combustion stuff. I will tell you something, though, although those dryers must have been tapped into the fires of Hell itself, they (like everything else from their era) worked darn good. These new front load crapola machines, look pretty, and have lots of bells and whistles, but they can't dry spit! You can have all those wonderful enviromental stickers slapped on anything, saying how they will us less energy, Hah! We have to wait over an hour for stuff to dry, and even then, if one piece is dry, the sensors seem to think everything in the ball rolling about inside of the sheets is dry as well. Never ever thought I would miss the skin peeling dryers, but like me, they were Oldies, but Goodies!!!