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View Full Version : Best way to extinguish grease fire in oven?


tonbo0422
03-16-2003, 07:07 PM
It erupted while I was pre-heating the oven. I guess some bacon grease had dripped onto the aluminum foil at the bottom of the oven the last time I'd used it.

It was quite an enthusiastic flame, and I mulled (for two seconds) how best to put it out (after turning off the oven, off course.) But I didn't want to go nuts and ruin the oven, either.

Stupidly, I got a plant sprayer, opened the oven and sprayed it directly (on tight spray, not mist.) Kaboom! The fire grew by ten times!

My wife suggested kitty litter, but I didn't want roasted kitty litter smell in my next ten oven meals.

I finally just held the oven door closed and prayed, and after a loooong time the flame finally died.

But what if the fire had been bigger? What should I have done in the first place?

Rhum Runner
03-16-2003, 07:14 PM
This fire department site (http://hanford.gov/fire/safety/kitchen.htm#grease) says:
Oven Fires
Most of the time an oven fire is not serious. The fire is usually contained in the oven, which is designed for high heat anyway. The oven fire usually suffocates or is easily extinguished.

and from
here. (http://diynet.com/DIY/article/0,2058,426,00.html) You won't need a fire extinguisher for most fires. For instance, if the grease in a pot suddenly catches fire, just use a potholder to put a lid on the pot and smother the flames. Then turn the burner off. If a fire starts in your oven, turn off the oven, close the door, and watch for smoke. If the oven continues to smoke, call the fire department.

So it sounds like you did the wrong thing when you sprayed the fire (Never use water on a grease fire!) but recovered well when you simply closed the door and let it burn out.

racer72
03-16-2003, 07:14 PM
Baking soda would have put the fire out rather quickly. I keep a box next to the stove just in case. You should also have a fire extinguisher in the kitchen too.

Boyo Jim
03-16-2003, 07:17 PM
Your best bet is just what you did. Leave the door closed. The fire will die of either fuel or oxygen starvation. My training, which is very minimal, is to "isolate the fire" -- close it off from other possible fuel supplies.

The other this is to get an extinguisher. Ideally it should be rated for fires of type 1, 2, and 3. (Grease/chemical fires, and electrical fires, are the types where it's a BAD idea to use water).

For this type fire, I think a CO2 extinguisher would be okay, but you still have some risk. Some extinguishers have such high pressure that they scatter the burning material before they extinguish it. So I think what you did is the best solution, unless the flame is actually escaoing from the oven

prisoner6655321
03-16-2003, 07:18 PM
What kind of Fire Extinguisher do you have? Is it a Class A, B or C? I think many extinguishers these days are capable of extinguishing combustibles, grease, and electrical fires. Mine does. You should also get one that extinguishes all 3 types of fire.

Here is some more information on fire extinguishers.
http://hanford.gov/fire/safety/extingrs.htm#feratings

tonbo0422
03-16-2003, 07:54 PM
I have a fire extinguisher right next to the oven (not sure what type, but I bought it at Price Club, so I'm sure it's a generic type) but the thought of spraying all that crud into the oven--possibly ruining it forever--stayed my hand. Fortunately, logic overtook panic and I realised that my first instinct--throw water on it--was not the right one.

What's funny about all this is that my goddamn smoke alarm that usually goes nuts when I'm cooking something in the oven and open it, remained silent throughout the billowing clouds of smoke. (It works--I checked it!)

ltfire
03-16-2003, 08:20 PM
I'll tell you a horror story about an oven fire. Don't know if they even make an oven like this any more..and they shouldn't if they do.It was a self cleaning oven in which you moved a lever on the front from left to right, which locked the oven door. Set the control to clean and it started a cycle of very high heat which ran for 30 minutes and then shut itself off. The huge problem was that the locking mechanism could not be overcome. Once the process began, you waited a good hour or more before it could be opened. So, when the fire began (the grease that was melting off the walls of the oven) I got frantic real fast. The oven was hard wired so no plug to pull..ran to the garage and popped the circuit breaker..that stopped the feed of heat but not the flames..called 911 and then stretched a garden hose from outside and waited for it to break out of the oven at some point..fortunately it didn't..banked down and went out before FD arrived. Disconnected it a few hours later and threw it away..and me a career firefighter for 35 years..sheesh!

prisoner6655321
03-16-2003, 08:21 PM
The fire extinguisher has to have information on it, regardless of "quality." Read the label. It won't ruin your oven, but you'll have to clean it. You need to visit the site I showed you and learn about this. Seriously. And if you have never actually used an extinguisher or you want to know more from the real guys, go to the fire station and ask someone there to show you about fire extinguishers. They really would be happy to give you the advice. They don't want to have to run to your house. They want YOU to extinguish the fire. Don't be too proud to risk your life or the lives of your loved ones. They might even let you practice on a real fire. That's fun. I did it when I was a kid.

tonbo0422
03-16-2003, 11:22 PM
God, the horror of thinking about the scenarios provided by your link almost begin to paralyze. I almost don't WANT to know how to use a fire extinguisher--if I do, it'll happen to me, goes the subconscious thought.

Plus, I'm on the 8th floor . . . no ladders coming to rescue me, even if they could deal with two adults, a 19-month-old and two cats.

But you're right. I will immediately institute a family emergency policy starting next week. Even though I'm technically low-risk (nonsmoker, aware of fire dangers) someone else in this building might decide to ruin my day.

Eclectic Skeptic
03-17-2003, 04:00 AM
Salt or baking soda works great.

Jinx
03-17-2003, 07:18 AM
Yes, this is all good advice, but why should water make it worse? How can water smother some flames, and feed others?
- Jinx

john_e_wagner
03-17-2003, 08:15 AM
Simple answer: Grease / oil floats on water.

So if you have your fire in a pot and pour water on it, you can make the floating grease pour out of the pot since it floating. The water won't smother the fire since it goes to the bottom of the pan.

Brave Sir Robin
03-17-2003, 08:46 AM
I had a very lively grease fire in the oven about a year ago, and baking soda put it right out. I tried to let it burn itself out for about 30 seconds, but it was still burning brightly so I decided to extinguish it with the baking soda. There was quite a mess, but it was quite preferable to fire damage to anything else.

handy
03-17-2003, 10:58 AM
Ah, calling the fire dept works very well too, I might add.

David Simmons
03-17-2003, 12:03 PM
Originally posted by handy
Ah, calling the fire dept works very well too, I might add.

If you don't have a dry-powder or CO2 extingusher, close the door and call the fire department.

If the fire goes out from lack of oxygen with the oven door closed, don't open the door until things cool down. Things might still be above the ignition temperature of the grease and the fire will restart, probably rather violently, when oxygen comes in the opened door.

engineer_comp_geek
03-17-2003, 01:50 PM
In my experience you definately don't want to just let the thing burn out on its own.

We had spilled grease from a turkey one thanksgiving and didn't realize it until several days later, when I tried to preheat the oven to cook a pizza and the oven caught on fire :eek:

I knew from having the fire dept visit our school when I was little and from working in a restaurant in my youth that the best way to put out a grease fire is to smother it. Water just spreads the grease everywhere (since grease and water don't mix) and makes the fire bigger. So I looked for something to smother the fire with. I threw what little salt we had on it, which helped some, but I ran out of salt. By now the fire alarms in the house were all going off and the kids were all on the front lawn to get away from the smoke, and the fire was showing no sign of burning out on its own any time soon. I finally grabbed a cookie sheet and set it upside down on the bottom of the oven, and this managed to smother enough of it that the rest burnt out in a very short time.

The only damage to the oven (after the smoke, salt, and grease was cleaned up) was that the temperature sensor got burnt up in the fire. When I went searching for parts I found that you can't just buy the little temperature sensor, but instead you have to buy the entire temperature control unit with it, for a total of about 75 bucks :eek: However, that's a lot cheaper than a new oven. Maybe if I had to pay repair labor I would have just gone for a new oven, but I'm an engineer geek and could fix it myself. I could have saved 75 bucks if I could have put the fire out sooner.

The next day we went out and purchased a small fire extinguisher. Thankfully we haven't had to use it yet.

prisoner6655321
03-17-2003, 09:15 PM
Yep, a small Class A,B,C fire extinguisher is one of the best investments you'll ever make, even if you never use it.

ZenBeam
03-18-2003, 12:36 PM
In my experience you definately don't want to just let the thing burn out on its own. [...] I knew from having the fire dept visit our school when I was little and from working in a restaurant in my youth that the best way to put out a grease fire is to smother it.
But if you leave the door closed, you are smothering it.

I'm really, really skeptical that anything anyone might do to put out an oven fire that involves opening the oven door and letting in more oxygen could possiby be better than just leaving the damn door closed.

MaryEFoo
03-18-2003, 01:02 PM
My roommate had a broiler fire one time. I grabbed a bath towel, sloshed it in water and wrung it out (quickly), and laid it down covering the broiler bottom. And I think closed it at that point.

Worked fine, but now I have an ABC extinguisher near the stove (not above it, I don't want it hot when I grab it).

Smothering is good, 'wet blankets' are good. Fire extinguishers are good. 911 is good.

inertia
03-18-2003, 03:16 PM
If you live on a house boat you could throw it in the river.

Lagged2Death
03-18-2003, 03:54 PM
Originally posted by ZenBeam
I'm really, really skeptical that anything anyone might do to put out an oven fire that involves opening the oven door and letting in more oxygen could possiby be better than just leaving the damn door closed. [/B]

I mostly agree. Even electric ovens are usually vented (gas ones, of course, must be well vented - they're supposed to sustain fire), so leaving the door closed doesn't cut off the supply of oxygen. But it surely must provide less oxygen than opening the door will.

My electric oven/range has an exhaust vent under the right rear range burner. If I had a fire in the oven, I think I'd try to plug the vent with a wet dishtowel.

How serious is an oven fire, anyhow? My Mom's old electric oven got hot enough (during self-clean) to soften Pyrex glassware, and it posed no fire hazard. Is a little grease fire going to get hotter than that?

engineer_comp_geek
03-18-2003, 04:49 PM
Originally posted by ZenBeam
But if you leave the door closed, you are smothering it.

I'm really, really skeptical that anything anyone might do to put out an oven fire that involves opening the oven door and letting in more oxygen could possiby be better than just leaving the damn door closed.

I can tell you from experience that with the door closed the fire was getting plenty of oxygen from somewhere. Smoke was coming out the top (through the burners) so it was pretty obviously sucking air in from somewhere. Closing the door did not seem to smother it at all. I don't know if this is true of all ovens but it is certainly true of mine.

Originally posted by Lagged2Death
How serious is an oven fire, anyhow? My Mom's old electric oven got hot enough (during self-clean) to soften Pyrex glassware, and it posed no fire hazard. Is a little grease fire going to get hotter than that?


Mine burned for quite some time. There was no damage to the oven other than the temperature sensor, and the outside of the oven wasn't particularly hot or anything. I don't think it was much of a fire hazard to the rest of the house, but it did fill the house up with smoke pretty good. I don't think anyone has a real appreciation for how choking smoke can be until you've really been in a smoke filled room.

I've had a stovetop grease fires that was definately a fire hazard, but it was in a frying pan and simply tossing a large pot lid onto the pan put it out.

prisoner6655321
03-18-2003, 09:13 PM
Here's something few people know. If it's electric, you can lift the top of the stove. It probably has a hinge to make cleaning under the burners easier. I don't know if it's there in a gas range since I don't have any experience with gas. Anyway, you can look under the burners and see if there is a vent. You'll definately have one if your oven is a self cleaning oven. If you have a fire and want to smother it inside, cover that hole with a lid or something.

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