NEWPORT — The automatic sprinkler system at the Best Western Plus Agate Beach Inn controlled a fire in the laundry room believed to have been started by spontaneous combustion.

The Newport Fire Department responded to a commercial fire call at 3019 North Coast Highway at about 12:45 a.m. Monday. Fire Chief Rob Murphy said responding firefighters found a blaze in the laundry room that had largely been extinguished by the facility’s sprinkler system, and they were able to quickly put down smolders and clear smoke from the building.

The entire hotel was briefly evacuated as a precaution — Murphy praised management for their execution of that process — but there was no damage to the main building, and guests were able to return to their rooms.

Murphy said the fire started by spontaneous combustion in a pile of laundry. Even after washed, the chief said, cloth can retain residue of oils and other chemicals. When that material is piled in large stacks, especially if it contains moisture, the oxidation of those chemicals releases heat with no place to escape, eventually building to ignition.

This kind of fire can be prevented by spreading laundry out as opposed to piling it, the chief said, adding that the incident was a great example of the value of fire alarm and suppression systems.

In an email to the News-Times, hotel manager Joshua Conrad thanked emergency personnel for their response and support.

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