Eight displaced following Avon grease fire
December 29, 2015
AVON — An unattended pan on the stove overheated and caused a grease fire, displacing the residents of two Avon apartments Monday night. At approximately 8 p.m., Eagle River Fire Protection District was dispatched to a report of a sprinkler flow alarm at the Buffalo Ridge apartments on Swift Gulch Road. Upon arrival, the fire had already been extinguished by the automatic fire suppression system.
The unit's resident said he had been frying food and left the room. When he returned, the pan was on fire. Since he wasn't sure what to do, he moved the pan to the sink where the flaming grease made contact with water. The resulting flare-up caused the sprinkler system to activate, dousing the fire.
The unit of origin and the one directly below it sustained mainly water damage. No injuries were reported; however, eight people were displaced. The cause has been determined to be accidental.
"The most important thing you can do to prevent a fire in the kitchen is to stay put while cooking," said Tracy LeClair, Eagle River Fire Protection District community risk manager. "If the contents of a pan catch on fire, smother it with the pan lid, get out and call 911."
You only have a few moments to either put out a grease fire or escape the house. Eagle River Fire Protection District offers these tips for extinguishing a grease fire:
The easiest way to smother a grease fire is to cover it with a metal lid. Be careful with glass lids; they can break from the extreme heat of open flame.
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Turn off the burner.
Do not put water on a grease fire. Water displaces grease instead of mixing with it, so the result is that it splashes grease everywhere instead of putting out the fire. Vaporized water increases the surface area of the grease, resulting in a far larger fire.
Grease fires can also be smothered with baking soda, but it takes a lot of baking soda to do the trick. Unless the baking soda is easily accessible, it's usually easier to quickly find a lid.
Do not throw sugar or flour on a grease fire. One cup creates the explosive force of two sticks of dynamite.
Do not try to move the fire to a sink or outside. Trying to carry a pot or pan full of burning oil will just slosh and splash the grease fire and could cause severe burns.
Start evacuating everyone from the building immediately. Fires spread extremely fast and can overwhelm victims in minutes. Get out and call 911. Eagle River Fire Protection District will be there to assist even if you manage to get the fire out.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, unattended cooking is the leading cause of home cooking fires. Between 2009 and 2013, two-thirds of home cooking fires started with the ignition of cooking materials. Engine 7 (Avon), Engine 12 (Edwards) and Battalion 7 responded and were assisted by the Avon Police Department, Vail Public Safety Communications Center and the Vail Valley Salvation Army.