Hello Cribline readers!
As many of you may have read in the House Pick of the Week post from yesterday, my house almost burned down due to a grease fire in my oven that erupted on Sunday evening. Had it not been for a lot of luck, some quick instincts and a little preparedness, my Victorian row home built mostly from wood back in the 1880′s on Capitol Hill may have been mostly ashes today!
I want to thank many of you for your emails and responses yesterday! And, for those of you who went home after work and picked up a fire extinguisher for your home!
It was shocking how a few Greek patties my friend was broiling, just after a couple minutes (the recipe called for broiling for 5) could turn into a four foot grease fire spewing out of my oven.
I literally had seconds to react, the house quickly filled with black smoke, the fire alarm was sounding off… it was chaos. Luckily about 6 feet from the oven by the back door was a fire extinguisher I bought about 10 years ago. THEY USUALLY ONLY LAST ABOUT 6-8 YEARS! I’d never used it before, but I just started spraying and it worked…. and remarkably put the fire out fast.
The fire was contained and did no damage!
Once I calmed down, and we cleaned up the kitchen, it occurred to me just what I may have lost. Number one was a painting of my German grandfather in my living room that hung in his and my grandmother’s home for most of their lives together, their cukoo clock, pictures that I inherited from both grandparents, my own albums from when I was born, my great grandmother’s prayer book, the quilt that I won at the retirement of my 3rd and 4th grade teacher Mr. Lane with all of my classmate’s signatures (that we learned to perfect after learning Cursive), and dozens of other Nik-naks… not to mention tax files, and even maybe a couple old love letters I never sent that I might not have exactly missed!!!
Of course there’s the furniture, clothes… and I don’t have jewelry except for some cuff links and the watch that I wear. I had my computer in hand as I was writing on my blog when the fire broke out. Even so, all of that can be replaced. And the restoration of my home that was just completed last Fall can be replaced and rebuilt, although it would have been a shame after so much painstaking work went into keeping the historic integrity of the home.
So, today, I wanted to pass along some tips that I found online to help you in case a situation like this arose in your home or your friend’s.
There are a number of good web resources on this, but having just gone through this experience, I found these tips from the kitchn.com to be helpful:
If the worst happens and you have a grease fire, do the following:
• Turn the Heat Off - Don’t try to move the pot. You might accidentally splash yourself or your kitchen with burning oil. And that would be bad.
• Cover the Pot with a Metal Lid - Fire cannot exist in the absence of oxygen. With the lid on (and the heat off), the fire should quickly consume all the oxygen and put itself out. Use a metal lid since glass will shatter.
• Pour on Baking Soda - Baking soda will extinguish grease fires, but only if they’re small. It takes a lot of baking soda to do the job.
• Spray the Pot with a Class B Dry Chemical Fire Extinguisher - This is your last resort, as fire extinguishers will contaminate your kitchen. Still, it’s better than the alternative if the fire is getting out of control.
• Get Out and Call 911 - If the fire does break out of control, don’t try to be a hero. Get out and find a phone to call 911.
Whatever you do, DO NOT do the following:
• Do Not Use Water - Pouring water can cause the oil to splash and spread the fire. The vaporizing water can also carry grease particles in it, also spreading the fire.
• Do Not Move the Pot or Carry It Outside - Throwing the pot outside might seem logical in the frenzy of the moment. But trying to move the pot might splash burning oil on you, your home, and anything outside.
• Do Not Throw Any Other Baking Product On the Fire - Flour might look like baking soda, but it won’t react the same. Only baking soda can help put out a grease fire.
Here’s a link to How To Use a Fire Extinguisher
Here’s a link to Lowes to buy a fire extinguisher
Here’s a link to Home Depot to buy a fire extinguisher
They are about $40.00
Another tip from one of my readers (Chef Robert from Robert’s Espresso in San Francisco):
“One other fire prevention tip that I would add, is to do regular degrease cleaning of your stove, oven and overhead fan area, on some kind of regular basis. These areas can light up, if not cleaned properly.”
And, finally, here’s how to clean up after using a fire extinguisher