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Combatting grease fires in your home the safe way

After the blazing 4th of July celebration, we are still thinking about fire home safety.

While we have talked these last few weeks about many different aspects of keeping you fire-safe in your home, there is still more to say!

Today, with the help of Aberdeen Fire Chief Tom Hubbard, we will be talking about how to handle grease fires.


Most cooking mistakes don’t turn into dangerous disasters. However, the exception can be grease fires.

Do you know what to do if your cooking oil catches fire?

“A grease fire happens when your cooking oil becomes too hot. When heated, oils will first start to boil, then they’ll start smoking, and then they will catch on fire,” Chief Hubbard explained.

While most vegetables oils have a smoking point about 450 degrees, animal fats such as lard will start smoking about 375 degrees.

“Just like any kind of fire the best thing is to concentrate on prevention,” Hubbard said.

So, whenever you heat oil for pan-frying or deep-fat frying stay in the kitchen! For deep-fat frying, use a heavy pot that has a lid and also clip a thermometer to the side, so you know the temperature of the oil!

Keep your eyes and nose open! If you see a bit of smoke or detect an acrid smell, turn the heat down or off immediately or carefully remove the pot to another burner.


If you are confronted with a grease fire on your stove, Chief Hubbard recommends you do the following:

  • Do not try to move the pot! (You may splash yourself or the kitchen area with burning oil.)

  • Turn the heat off.

  • Cover the pot with metal lid – Even if you hadn’t intended to use the lid during the cooking process, having one there is a good safety measure. Putting the lid on while the heat is turned off, the fire will quickly consume all the oxygen available under the lid and put itself out. Use a metal lid if possible – a glass lid could shatter.

  • Pour on baking soda – If you don’t have a lid and the fire is small, use baking soda to extinguish the grease fire. It takes a lot to do the job. Flour is not a viable option, only baking soda can help put out a grease fire!

  • Spray the Pot with a Class B Chemical Fire Extinguisher – As a last resort to your intervention, use a fire extinguisher. Don’t shoot right at the pan full of grease. Shoot for the stovetop or counter net to it and adjust the direction as needed to put the fire out. It will contaminate your kitchen, which isn’t great but a much better alternative than having the kitchen – or whole house – burn.

  • BBQ grease fires happen. Close the lid and turn off the gas. For briquette fueled BBQ’s, remove the meat if possible then close the lid. Now you know why BBQ tools have long handles! Keeping your barbecue away from the house and low hanging anything is important.

  • Get Out and Call 911 – If the fire does become out of control, get out and call 911.


As we mentioned earlier, grease fires are particularly tricky blazes in which the wrong action can make things worse – quickly! Whatever you do, Do Not do the following:

  • Do NOT use water – Pouring water on a grease fire will make it worse. It can cause the oil to splash and spread the fire. In addition, the vaporizing water can carry grease particles in it, also spreading the fire.

  • Do NOT move the pot or carry it outside – Before a fire, you can scoot a hot oil pan to a different burner if you detect it getting a little too warm. However, if you actually have a fire, carrying a pot of hot oil through your house to the outside is just too risky. In the process there is a great likelihood that you might splash burning oil on you, someone else, your home or something outside.

  • Do NOT throw any other baking product on the fire – It’s the chemical properties of baking soda alone that can kill a grease fire. Again, just because flour looks like it, doesn’t mean it will put out the fire. It won’t.

So, as the United States Fire Administration succinctly puts it, “Watch What You Heat!"

“When baking remain in your home. When roasting or frying, stay in the kitchen!”


Did you know our NeighborWorks of Grays Harbor office is ADA compliant? We have designated disabled parking behind the office, a ramp to the entry door and an ADA compliant restroom.

Dave Murnen and Pat Beaty are construction specialists at NeighborWorks of Grays Harbor County, where Murnen is executive director. This is a nonprofit organization committed to creating safe and affordable housing for all residents of Grays Harbor County. For questions about home repair, renting, remodeling or buying, call 360-533-7828 or visit 710 E. Market St. in Aberdeen. Our office is fully ADA-compliant.

Do you have questions about home repair, renting, remodeling or becoming a homeowner or one of our contractors? We have rehab loan funds at tailored rates! Call us at 533-7828, write us or visit us at 710 E. Market St. in Aberdeen. Our office is ADA compliant, complete with a designated disabled parking spot, ramp and ADA compliant restroom.


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