By Lara Bricker
EXETER__Fire investigators suspect a fire inside a Tamarind Lane garage early Tuesday morning was sparked by the spontaneous combustion of some rags covered in linseed oil."We’re suspecting it was discarded rags," Exeter Fire Chief Brian Comeau said. Exeter firefighters were called to 5 Tamarind Lane at 2:15 a.m. for a report of a fire in the residential garage, Chief Comeau said. The homeowner had noticed the fire and was trying to extinguish it on his own by the time fire crews arrived on the scene. Firefighters were able to douse the flames quickly using water from a tanker truck, Comeau said, adding there was a fire hydrant in the area if they needed additional water. "The damage was pretty much contained to the garage area, it never got into the house," the fire chief said. "There was some smoke and heat damage within the garage, but it was not a total loss."The fire Tuesday is the second time in recent months that a fire was believed to have been started by spontaneous combustion of oil soaked rags. In May, a home at 6 Gill St., was heavily damaged when rags stored in a sealed metal container heated up and caught fire. "The fires are being caused by how these rags and the painting materials are being stored after their use," Comeau said. For example, a homeowner may use rags to stain a piece of furniture and then place the rags inside the sealed stain container. "When they get in a closed container like a gas container, the rags will heat up and spontaneously combust," he said, adding people should always read the label of a stain or paint can for special instructions. And they should keep an eye out for linseed oil. "Linseed oil is the culprit," Comeau said.If using a rag or cloth to apply stain or paint, people should make sure to leave the rags in an area away from their home when done. "So if it’s going to do anything, it will do it without damaging your property."