Cause of Mill Creek fire traced to oily towels

MILL CREEK — Investigators believe hot, oily dish towels sparked the fire that displaced 10 people from a Martha Lake-area apartment complex Sunday.

No one was seriously injured in the fire that broke out about 10:30 a.m. at the Millwood Estates Apartments, west of Mill Creek.

It caused more than $200,000 in damage.

People who lived in the apartment where the fire started have a food-vending business, said Leslie Hynes, spokeswoman for Snohomish County Fire District 1.

They apparently had washed several dish towels that had been soiled with cooking oil, Hynes said. They placed the laundered towels on a bed, where investigators believe they later ignited.

Similar fires have started with rags soaked with oils used to treat or stain wood, Hynes said. The heat from a clothes dryer can contribute to oily towels igniting in the appliance or after they’re removed.

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