Tips to prevent dangerous kitchen fires

Since 1990, cooking has been the leading cause of house fires nationwide. So, a news crew in North Carolina recently teamed up with a fire department and built a working kitchen to demonstrate how dangerous grease fires can be.

It happens very fast, a deadly fire, hot grease and choking smoke.

Ojeda Prince's Kitchen burned last month in Charlotte because someone walked away from a pan of boiling grease on the stove. The injuries can be critical, if not fatal.

In a panic, a family member ran for the garden hose, which didn't reach, and that seemingly bad luck, probably saved their lives.

The Charlotte Fire Department explains step by step to help describe the devastating and possibly deadly effects of throwing water on a grease fire.

Out at the Charlotte Fire Academy, we built a kitchen with DKI restoration. We bought a kitchen and working stove from habitat for humanity, all with the intention of setting it a blaze on purpose.

Once we heated the grease hot enough to cause a fire, things became very real. Flames on the stove and thick black smoke came from above. The same type of grease fire that nationally killed 410 people in 2010, the same type of fire that caused 5,300 injuries and 993 million in property damages, all in just 1 year.

The first thing you need to know is you should never walk away from pots on the stove, especially hot cooking oil.

"If you don't have a tight fitting lid, use a cookie sheet,” explains Dwayne Davis of the Charlotte Fire Department. “All you want to do is slide a lid over the pan and take away the oxygen then leave it alone. If you try to move it then you'll have a flash."

If the fire is bigger and has spread beyond the pan, get out of the house and call 911. Don't fight the fire yourself and never, ever, throw water on a grease fire.

To see what will happen, we had the Charlotte Fire Department safely and from a distance, dump 1 cup of water on just 1 cup of flaming cooking oil. The flames exploded and hot grease, 800 degrees hot, went flying.

The best way to avoid a fire disaster like this, is to never walk away from your stove while cooking and never ever throw water on a grease fire.

And, of course, if you have any questions about fire safety, be sure to call your local fire department.

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