Grease fire prompts home evacuation

Thursday, September 4, 2008

A home located at the intersection of Highway B and Farm Road 1035 west of Purdy was moderately damaged by fire on Aug. 29.

"The fire was caused when one of the occupants of the residence left the stove on with a pan of grease still on it," said Mike Redshaw, Purdy Fire Protection District fire chief. "When she re-entered the kitchen, she found the pan to be on fire and attempted to extinguish it with water.

"The water caused the grease to splash and intensified the fire, at which time the home was evacuated and 911 was called," said Redshaw.

The Purdy Fire Protection District was notified of the fire at 5:28 p.m. Firefighters arrived at the scene and contained the fire within eight minutes. The scene was cleared at 6:40 p.m.

"Moderate damage was limited to the kitchen with minor smoke damage throughout the remainder of the home," said Redshaw. "The fire destroyed the range and damaged cabinets above the range.

"Water damage was minimal and confined to the kitchen," said Redshaw. "The residents were able to reoccupy the home later that evening."

Although the home did contain working smoke detectors, the fire was noticed and all occupants were evacuated before the alarm sounded, said Redshaw.

"I spoke with the family after the fire in regards to the situation," said Redshaw. "The young lady who tried to extinguish the fire did not know the risks of using water to douse a grease fire and that it will indeed cause (the fire) to intensify.

"The homeowners are planning on placing a fire extinguisher in the kitchen in case something like this should occur in the future," said Redshaw.

Even though the Purdy Fire Protection District has not documented a large number of grease fires, Redshaw recommends all area residents purchase a fire extinguisher for their home.

"The first instinct of anyone is to try to use water to extinguish any kind of fire," said Redshaw. "With grease fires, the water will not mix or cover the grease.

"The grease will rise to the top and continue to burn," said Redshaw. "At the same time, the water can cause the grease to splash outside of its container and ignite surrounding materials."

Residential fire extinguishers can be purchased at many local retail stores. Most dry chemical extinguishers are designed to handle several types of fires, including: Class A, wood and paper; Class B, combustible liquids; and Class C, electrical.

"A Class B dry chemical extinguisher is designed for these types of fires," said Redshaw. "While they must be used from a safe distance so that the force of the chemical coming out of the extinguisher doesn't cause the grease to splash, they are a much safer and more effective tool to extinguish these fires."

The Purdy Fire Protection District responded to the fire west of Purdy with four apparatus and nine firefighters. The Butterfield Fire Protection District provided mutual aid with one fire engine and two firefighters.

Mutual aid was also offered by the Wheaton Volunteer Fire Department and other local districts. All other mutual aid was cancelled en route to the scene.

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