Columbia Follows National Trend With In-Home Cooking Fires

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COLUMBIA - Cooking fires comprise of 45 percent of residential building fires nationwide, according to the U.S. Fire Administration, and Columbia follows that trend.

The Columbia Fire Department calculated 723 total fires in 2010 and 2011 combined. Cooking related fires made up nearly 150 of those incidents causing almost $300,000 in total estimated losses. Columbia Fire Department Captain John Metz says most cases result from negligence.

"We have a number of fires that occur when someone comes home after an evening out, and decide they're hungry," Metz says. "They put something on the stove, or something in the oven, they fall asleep in a chair or couch and a fire results."

According to Metz, simply staying aware and awake can prevent most cooking-related incidents and reduce the chances of damage or injury.

"People that leave the room, just for a moment, it ends up resulting in a fire," Metz says.

If a grease fire occurs on a stove, Metz suggests placing a lid or a cooking sheet over the fire to prevent it from getting oxygen and, if possible, carefully turn off the stove. As for oven fires, leave the oven door closed and carefully turn off the oven.

Here are a few other tips in case to prepare for in home fires:

  • Place a smoke alarm on every level of the house, even in sleeping areas
  • Test smoke alarms once a month
  • Change smoke detector batteries twice a year
  • Move combustibles or flammable liquids as far away from the stove as possible