Four-minute response saves home from French-frying

Take a look at this little story and you’ll find another reason to thank a Portland firefighter next time you see one …

Although the grease fire was raging, firefighters were able to knock down the blaze quickly and limit the fire damage to the kitchen area.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
It’s a cook’s worst nightmare – a grease fire out of control. On October 21, a resident at the home on the corner of SE Division Street and SE 130th Avenue found this out when he stepped away from the stove for a couple of minutes.

“I was cooking, and the fire started,” the gentleman told us. “I left French fries cooking on the stove; the oil started burning.”

The homeowner escaped without injury; he was alone in the house at the time. He said he’d like to leave the cooking to his wife, but she’s temporarily out of town attending school.

This fire was estimated to cause $75,000 worth of damage to the home.

Rapid response saves home
“Firefighters from Station 7 were dispatched at 4:43 p.m. and arrived at 4:47 p.m.,” Portland Fire & Rescue’s spokesman, Lt. Allen Oswalt told us. “Other units also came to make sure we had enough equipment and personnel on hand to knock down this fire.”

We asked how and why the fire started.

“Your stove is capable of bringing cooking oil to auto-ignition temperature,” explained Oswalt. “This means the oil will burst into flame with a spark or ignition source. If the oil boils over onto the flame, the temperature can be even lower.”

What lesson can be learned?

“Never put pots or pans on the stove – especially ones that contain cooking oil – and walk away. Your life, and the lives of your family, depends on it.”

Oswalt said investigators estimated the total loss at $75,000.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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