Q:

How do kitchen fires start?

A:

According to the National Fire Protection Association, the vast majority of cooking fires start when unattended food or cooking materials overheat and catch fire. Frying, in particular, is one of the most dangerous cooking methods, as it involves heating a flammable accelerant. Improper fire fighting techniques are also contribute to kitchen blazes, increasing the amount of damage caused, as well as the potential for injury.

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One of the biggest mistakes cooks make in the face of fire is using the wrong method to put out the flame. While dousing a wood fire with water puts it out, throwing water into a grease fire is more likely to create a massive steam explosion and spread burning oil throughout the kitchen. Placing a lid on a burning pan can snuff out the fire quickly, denying it the oxygen it needs to sustain combustion. Fires in an oven may be snuffed the same way simply by closing the oven door and cutting off the airflow. Baking soda is another method of fire fighting that works well in kitchen fires, as the granules are incombustible and can get between the flames and the fuel. A multipurpose fire extinguisher is the best tool for putting out a kitchen fire, however, and any cook who regularly works with large quantities of oil should have one handy.

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