Special Report: Stopping the flames

Special Report: Stopping the flames

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Do you know what to do if suddenly you were faced with a grease fire in your kitchen?

It's the leading cause of house fires in Albany.

But firefighters say most people react the same way when a fire erupts: panic.

In controlled tests, Albany firefighters heated up vegetable oil until it erupted in flames, just like it does in dozens of kitchens every year.

Unattended cooking is by far the number one cause of house fires in Albany, according to state records.

"There were 10 zip codes out of the state of Georgia on that list. Three of them were in the city of Albany," said Albany Fire Department Inspector Jennifer Jackson.

Firefighters say most people react the same way when fires happen in their home.

The absolute worst thing a person can do when faced with a grease fire is what most people do: throw water on it.

"If you make it worse, then instead of losing a stove or a nice pot, you wind up losing a kitchen. Or losing a home. Or losing your life," said Albany Fire Department Inspector Carlton Russell.

Firefighters say never throw water on a grease fire.

The tests

In this report, we tried out several other ways firefighters say people try to put out grease fires.

Firefighters say people often throw salt on the fire, and it flares up worse. But in our experiment, firefighters were surprised when the salt put the grease fire out.

Then we poured sugar on the flaming grease.

It was actually sugar dust that ignited the explosion that blew apart a plant near Savannah.

But again, firefighters were surprised the sugar put the flaming grease out.

"We learn something everyday. Especially in this department," said Jackson.

But firefighters recommend a box of baking soda as a good defense against grease fires.

A lid for a pot works well too.

"The lid will remove the oxygen," Russell said. "A lid will not work if you don't turn the power off to [the] eye. Because as long as it continues to heat up, every time you remove that lid, it's going to reignite."

The best method of putting out a grease fire is an ABC fire extinguisher.

But turning the stove eye off is key to keeping the fire out no matter how you extinguish it.

Meanwhile, the key to preventing the grease fire is to stay with your cooking, and not letting it overheat.

Learn the lessons:

If there is a fire, turn off the stove eye.

If you can't get near the stove, go to the breaker box and shut off power to the entire house.

Get an ABC fire extinguisher, a lid, and a box of baking soda. Place them between the stove and an exit door, so if you can't put the fire out, an exit is near.

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