The Very Real Danger of Unattended Cooking Fires

Overnight, two fires in Denver were caused by the same, all too common mistake.Cooking oil was left heating on stovetops, unattended.  Unfortunately, in addition to property damage that occurred as a result of last night’s fires, a dog in one of the homes lost his life.  The National Fire Protection Association notes that cooking fires are the number one cause of home fires and injuries.  They provide safety tips on their web site, which you can find here.

Back on June 27, 2015, AEI Corporation geared one of its Flashover Fridays live burn events at their Littleton, CO headquarters, to demonstrate just how easily, and quickly, unattended oil on a stove top can ignite and flashover in a kitchen. The burn demonstrated that cooking oil left on the stove top reached auto ignition at 33 minutes, and a temperature of 710 degrees Fahrenheit.  Just about 10 minutes after auto ignition, flashover occurred in the burn cell, which had been equipped with a stove, kitchen cabinets and kitchen table, with temperatures between 1,500 and 1,700 degrees Fahrenheit.

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All of this speaks to a few simple safety rules to observe when cooking.  If you are going to be frying or grilling foods, stay in the kitchen and keep an eye on them. Keep items, like potholders, towels, potato chips (excellent fuel source due to oil content), etc. away from the stove top, and add food you are frying gently to the pan to minimize the amount of hot oil splatter.

AEI Corporation routinely investigates the origin and cause of structure fires, as well as wildland and vehicle fires.  The Flashover Friday live burn events are used to both gather scientific data and educate the public by live demonstration, about the behavior, dangers, and ways to avoid/prevent fires.

AEI Corporation has experts with years of experience in the design, installation, inspection, testing, maintenance and repair of fire suppression systems and their components, as well as industry standard of care issues.   Also on staff are experts in the area of fire and explosion origin and cause investigations, with years of experience serving as fire fighters and forensic investigators.

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