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Austin firefighters respond to blazes caused by spontaneous combustion of tortilla chips

Generally, tortilla chips don't heat up until you put salsa on them.But in Austin, Texas, the fire department ...

Posted: Jul 21, 2018 7:31 AM
Updated: Jul 21, 2018 7:31 AM

Generally, tortilla chips don't heat up until you put salsa on them.

But in Austin, Texas, the fire department had to put out fires out not one, but four times caused by the spontaneous combustion of tortilla chips.

It started when a tortilla chip factory was testing a new way to handle its chip waste. The company crushed the chips into a fine, powder-like substance and put the powder into boxes that had soaked up oil, Austin Fire Department division chief Palm Buck told CNN.

When the weather heated up, the chip dust heated up too -- and burst into flames.

"Certainly tortilla chips was a new thing for us," Buck said.

Even after firefighters arrived at the scene, cardboard boxes of waste continued to ignite, popping up behind them as they were putting out fires.

Three days later, more boxes of the same food waste combusted as well. Firefighters were called to the scene three times last week, and stayed overnight once to monitor the chip waste, Buck said.

They drowned the rest of the crates with water just to be safe.

Thankfully, the fires were outside, so the factory building wasn't damaged.

"Tortilla chips are big business around these parts," the Department said. "We take them seriously, as they are responsible for holding all manner of very important things - like queso, salsa, nachos, and various other sundry items that are critical to a Texan's everyday life and well-being."

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Gusty winds and very dry conditions are continuing to result in a Red Flag Warning for high fire danger today. Temperatures will also be much warmer this afternoon. Dry and mild weather returns on Wednesday and continues through this weekend.
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