Nobody was injured but significant damage occurred after a grease fire broke out in a north-side apartment.
A Madison man was preparing to fry some chicken when a dish towel lying near the burner caught fire. Meanwhile, the oil he was heating boiled over, compounding the issue and igniting the stove top. The smoke quickly set off alarms in the building, and residents began evacuating.
The occupant first attempted to put out the fire with water, which made the flames worse as water and oil do not mix. A quick-thinking neighbor grabbed a fire extinguisher from the common hallway in the building and used it to knock down the flames, which were reportedly 2-3 feet high.
Hazy smoke wafted through the hallways as firefighters entered the building. Thermal imaging cameras confirmed there were no signs of heat or fire extension in the cabinets or nearby walls and ceiling. There was severe damage to the range hood, moderate damage to the cabinets above the stove, and only minor damage to the stove itself, with moderate smoke damage to the walls and ceiling in the kitchen. Firefighters took the smoldering towel outside and placed it in the snow as they set up fans to ventilate the apartment.
SAFETY TIP: Keep all combustible materials, such as dish towels, plastic dishware, etc., away from the stove top. Also, when faced with an oil or grease fire, the best approach to take is to place a lid on the pan to deprive the fire of oxygen, or find a dry chemical extinguisher and apply it to the fire. If you are not comfortable taking these actions, immediately go outside -- closing all doors behind you -- and call 911.
Cynthia Schuster (Public Information Officer)