11/23/11 — Fire chief: Caution prevents accidents

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Fire chief: Caution prevents accidents

By Ty Johnson
Published in News on November 23, 2011 1:46 PM

It might result in a moister turkey, but deep frying also provides an added amount of danger for those who choose to cook their birds with the volatile combination of gas, open flame and oil.

Goldsboro Fire Chief Gary Whaley said calls always increase during the holiday season as more and more individuals turn on their stoves, grills and fryers to prepare seasonal delicacies.

But the deep fryer accidents are typically the most explosive because there are so many mistakes that can lead to unintended fires.

Choosing the correct oil, making sure the turkey is properly defrosted and not overfilling the cooker are precautions to take when preparing a deep-fried turkey, but just in case the worst should happen, Whaley said it is best to cook in an open space.

"Don't cook it on a wood deck. It's best to be on solid ground away from any structures," he said.

Always have a Class ABC fire extinguisher handy and always aim at the base of the fire. Because grease and gas are involved, the extinguisher needs to be a dry chemical one.

"You don't want to throw water on the grease to intensify it and make it that much worse," Whaley said, adding cooks should ideally have hoses long enough to allow the gas tank to be far away from the cooker. "Try to cut the gas off as soon as possible so it will quit feeding the fire."

If an extinguisher isn't available, wet towels can help to smother the fire, although Whaley said unless there is a structure nearby, just waiting out the fire can be the best option.

"If you're outside and away from the building, the best thing to do is get away from it and let it burn itself out," he said.

But if the fire spreads to a structure or gets out of control, or you can't turn the gas off, Whaley said it's time to call 911.

The most important advice he had for holiday cooking, however, was something applicable to all cooking appliances.

"Don't leave anything unattended. Make sure someone stays with it and be very cautious," he said.