PLACE Designers | Spontaneous Combustion

As summer turned to fall, the boss decided to remodel the office.  The main project was stripping the paint off the wood trim and wood doors.  For many weeks, I worked on this project after school.  I don’t think I was the only one doing this work, because I think others came in to work on it from time to time.  But when I worked, I worked alone.

The process was to put a door on the conference table, pour chemicals on the door, and then scrape the paint.  The chemicals softened the paint and then it would turn into gunk that you could remove.  I would use paper towels to mop up the stuff and then put it in trash bags.   My routine was to stop by Polanek’s Grocery (a small deli on the square at the time) and get a 32 oz. soda and then head to work.  I didn’t mind the work, I would put on some music and work at it for about 2 hours each day after school.  Even though I tried to protect the conference table, the chemicals ruined the finish on it.

After awhile all the doors and trim were finished as far as this process goes.  There was still a residue on the wood, like a translucent film that the chemicals would not remove.  At some point near the end of the project another employee was helping.  I came back to work one day to an amazing story.  The employee had been removing the gunk, just like I was.  When he left for the day, everything was fine.  But sometime in the night, Voelter had been called by a friend to let him know his building was smoking!

Voelter rushed over there, and sure enough a trash can was engulfed in flames.  Thankfully, he was able to put it out before it damaged the building.  The paper towels had spontaneously combusted!  This was amazing to me.  I was glad it wasn’t me that had forgotten to take out the trash that night, but it easily could have been.  We were all very careful from then on.

More to come soon.  If you want to get in touch please let me know!  Thanks for reading!

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