Wednesday, February 15, 2012 - 1:33am
Three more cooking fires in the space of 10 hours this week have been attributed to hot oil or grease on the stove. In all three cases, occupants left the stove or kitchen area with pans of food on high heat.
Damages were limited to smoke and heat. City of Madison firefighters were called to respond to ensure that there was no further damage.
So far in 2012, crews have responded to 52 cooking fires.
The City of Madison Fire Department reminds residents:
•Cooking fires are the #1 cause of household fires.
•Heat oil slowly. The quickest way for grease to catch fire is for it to be heated too quickly. Oil will quickly grow hotter and hotter until it will burst into flames. Never leave anything with any kind of grease unattended on the stove. It only takes a second for it to ignite and it spreads very quickly.
•Keep things away from oil that is heating. If water spills into a pan of hot grease, it will turn into steam immediately which will violently spew out hot grease in every direction. Make sure that no liquids are sitting close to the pan. Don't drink near the stove or keep cups of coffee or cans of soda too close either.
•Use great caution with deep fat fryers that nothing is around to tip them over. Be careful about the cord. Don't leave it anyplace where it can be snagged or pulled over by other things. Don't leave the fryer anywhere near the edge of the counter where it could be pulled or bumped by people passing or kids running through the area.
•Add foods to hot grease carefully. Make sure that the food isn't holding water. Pat French fries with paper toweling, make sure that chicken is covered in flour, and check over all foods for excessive moisture before they go into the grease. When putting things into hot grease place them in the pan or fryer with tongs or a long fork. Never drop them in because they could spatter and cause burns.
•Be prepared for the event of a grease fire. Keep oven mitts or thick and heavy pot holders close by. Especially remember to always have the lid that fits the pan right at hand. If a grease fire starts, immediately put the lid on the pan. The flames will smother for lack of oxygen. Only after the lid is firmly on the pan should you reach out and shut the burner off. Don't touch the lid until the pan has cooled for 20 to 30 minutes. Grease can reignite and splatter and the lid will be covered and dripping with hot grease for a good while.
•Never pick up a pan that is on fire. If you tip it, the fire will grab hold of whatever it falls onto and spread. If you don't have a lid ready, pour baking soda on the flames but be careful never to use baking powder because it burns and will add fuel to the fire.
- Lori Wirth, (608) 266-5947