What's the Leading Cause of Fires? - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

What's the Leading Cause of Fires?

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ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

Almost half of the house fires in Dougherty County last year started in the kitchen. Unattended cooking was the cause of most of those fires. Firefighters say these fires are preventable, and they urge people to show more caution in the kitchen to protect their homes and their lives. 

A simple device, a pot lid, could have stopped or put out nearly half of the house fires in Dougherty County-- if it had been used in time.

We found out jut how quickly a grease fire can spread. Firefighters cook hush puppies in a pan with grease, but when an ice cub is added, the grease quickly erupts in flames several feet over the pan, right where most peoples kitchen cabinets would be.

In a panic many people would thrown a pan of water on the flames. But it only splashes the grease and fire out of the pan across the burner. 

 "Water and grease don't mix. And you are just going to spread it," said Albany Fire Training Captain Gene Anderson.

In 2012 more than 46% of all fires in Dougherty County started in the kitchen, causing nearly one million dollars in property damage. 

  "Month after month cooking fires is our number one response. Every time we go to a fire at least half of them are cooking fires. Overwhelming majority this year," said Albany Fire Department Deputy Chief Ron Rowe.

So far in 2013 the Albany Fire Department has responded to 23 house fires, and 18 were caused by unattended cooking. Firefighters say people have to admit they simply forgot something on the stove.

"They usually try to not tell us what happened. They usually tell us they were only gone for a couple of minutes," Anderson said.

But a pan of hot grease pops and shifts without warning. As firefighters put on this demonstration the pan suddenly popped off the cooker and spilled, flaming up on it's own. Most injuries in cooking fires happen when people try to get the pan out of the house.

"If a person picks it up and begins to run somewhere with it, they are going to give it oxygen and that's going to make it flare up even more," Anderson said.

Firefighters say unattended cooking fires are one hundred percent preventable, and urge you to stay in the kitchen when you are cooking for safety. Firefighters say keep a lid close by when you are cooking. If you have a grease fire start up, put the lid on. That will cut the oxygen and put the fire out.

Firefighters also urge you to keep working smoke detectors in your kitchen and a fire extinguisher near the door. That way if you use the fire extinguisher, you will be near the door and able to escape the fire.

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