WESTPORT -- After firefighters rescued animals from a fire at Earthplace last Friday morning, the spontaneous combustion of a linseed oil-soaked cloth mixed with a bin of other laundry was found to be the start of the blaze.

Fire Marshal Edward Zygmant confirmed Tuesday the fire was accidental. The flames broke out in Earthplace's back room in a basket of towels set to be laundered, among them the soaked rag.

"Utilizing linseed oil is a popular preservative and finish. It shall be noted that linseed oil soaked rags are very susceptible to spontaneous combustion which was the case here," Zygmant wrote in an email. "Extreme care should be taken when using it and application rags should be dried flat, follow the safety precautions on the can."