Volunteer fire units from Soso, Hebron and Calhoun responded to 184 Soso Big Creek Road Friday afternoon around 12:30 p.m.
Lonnie Shows, who had worked several years as a superintendent at Dow Chemicals in Texas and had been through several fire safety courses, said he and his wife were outside of the home when they noticed smoke coming out of the front door. When he went into the kitchen the grease on the stove was on fire and the flames were crawling along the cabinets by the stove and along the kitchen ceiling. He got a garden hose and began to knock the flames out at the ceiling being careful not to spray the water directly on the grease. He was able to knock a majority of the fire down by the time fire units arrived on scene.
“I’m the culprit,” exclaimed Sherry Shows who admitted to leaving the grease on the burner where she was preparing to cook French fries and going outside to talk to her husband.
“Mr. Shows was treated at the scene for mild smoke inhalation by EMServ paramedics,” said Dan McKenna, Jones County Fire Coordinator who was among the first to arrive on scene, “but had he sprayed water directly onto the grease fire it would have been a totally different situation.”
McKenna explained that if water is spayed on a grease fire, the grease will explode into a huge ball of flaming grease, splattering the hot grease and spreading the fire. “Just imagine what happens when you throw gas on a fire. Throwing water on a grease fire has nearly the same results,” added McKenna.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) stated that one out of every eight households will have a cooking fire each year and the number one cause is unattended cooking.
What should you do when cooking? Never leave the room while cooking; never cook when you are sleepy or drowsy from medication; roll up sleeves and keep oven mitts, lids, and/or a cookie sheet nearby; and make sure you have working smoke alarms installed in or near the kitchen. In addition all flammable material should be kept away from the oven including paper towels and aerosol cans. Never place flammable material on top of the stove; the wrong burner is so often turned on.
If a small grease fire breaks out, put on oven mitts, turn off burner, and slowly slide a lid or cookie sheet over the top of the pot or pan which will remove oxygen from the fire and smother the flames. Leave the cover on until it cools. If you don’t have a lid or cookie sheet nearby, wet a cloth dish towel, ring it out, and slowly place it over the pot or pan. Using baking soda and/or a lot of salt can also extinguish a small grease fire. Never use flour and never try to move the pot or pan from the stove.
If you question whether you can control the fire and/or if it has gotten large enough to spread beyond the pot or pan, get out of the house immediately, making sure everyone else is out, and call 911 when you are outside of the home.
A Fire Extinguisher with an A-B-C rating should be kept in the kitchen area. However, it is not advisable to use a fire extinguisher on a grease fire as the pressure from the extinguisher can splatter the hot grease and spread the fire.