WEARSIDERS must take more care in the kitchen after a spate of cooking-related blazes, say fire officers.
Crews were called out to Fatfield, Washington, at about 2.45pm yesterday after a build-up of fat inside an oven sparked a fire in a house in Rivermead.
Another call came in just 10 minutes later at Brandling Street, Sunderland, where an unattended pan caused another blaze.
Fire fighters were also called out to a fire in Newcastle at 9.39pm last night, again caused by an unattended pan.
Group Manager Dave Jefferson, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, said: “The individuals involved in these incidents were incredibly lucky and thankfully, they all had working smoke alarms to give them the early warning of fire. Without them it could have been much worse.”
“Leaving cooking unattended for just a short time can lead to disastrous results such as oil overheating and catching fire. “Electric stoves stay hot for a while after they are turned off so pans should be removed from the heat when they are not being used.
In 2012/13, 61 per cent (360) of all accidental house fires in Tyne and Wear started in the kitchen – and 81 per cent of these were due to cooking appliances.
Mr Jefferson said: “I would urge everyone to make sure they have working smoke alarms fitted in their home on every level and that they are tested monthly. There is no doubt that a working smoke alarm can be the difference between life and death, giving you an early warning of fire and vital minutes to escape.
“Our advice in the event of a fire is always to get out, call the fire and rescue service and stay out.
“Do not try to put a fire out yourself. To help stop a fire from spreading, close the doors on your way out.
He added: “I would encourage all occupants to either use a thermostatically controlled ‘Deep Fat Fryer’ which will make sure the fat doesn’t get too hot, or use oven chips, as both methods are the safest. “However, if you have to use a chip pan, never overfill it with oil. It should never be more than one third full. Be careful that it doesn’t overheat – hot oil can catch fire easily and never throw water on a chip pan fire.”
Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service is encouraging people to cook safely by follow these tips:
• Check that the handle of the pan is not sticking over the edge of the cooker where it could easily be knocked or reached by children
• Do not cook when you have been drinking alcohol or taking drugs
• In the event of a fire, have an escape route in place.
• Don’t try to tackle a fire yourself. Get out, stay out and call 999.
• Get a smoke alarm fitted and test it monthly.