MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Authorities are warning Minnesota residents after a fatal reminder Sunday: Unattended cooking is the most common source of deadly building fires in our state.

On Sunday, a 31-year-old St. Paul man died from the results of an unattended cooking fire. Firefighters say the victim was cooking and walked away. However, by the time they got there, he was unconscious and died on the way to the hospital.

St. Paul firefighters say it was just one of the kitchen fires they responded to Sunday. Another building burned to the ground after some people were cooking in the garage.

For most of us, it’s something we do every day: cook something on a stove. When things go wrong, most aren’t deadly, but they are destructive.

St. Paul Fire Investigator Jamie Novak worked the fatal one Sunday. He says people often leave grease cooking, take a shower, check on the kids or fall asleep. He gave WCCO a demo in the fire house kitchen on how grease that gets too hot ignites (see video).

Stoves are the major culprit of kitchen fires. So, Novak he says “look while you cook” way you’ll catch a fire early. If you do see one, put a tight fitting lid over the flaming pan or slide a cookie sheet over it. He says to leave it covered with the burner off for 10 minutes before removing the lid.

Novak also says if flames are higher than two feet, don’t try to fight it, call 911. Also, check your detectors.

“Probably 70 percent of houses we go into don’t have a working smoke detector in the house because they burnt food last week and they took down the smoke detector,” said Novak.

He says to realize the power of the kitchen and that ruining dinner could quickly become the least of your problems.

Novak also suggest investing in a “Stove Top Fire Stop,” which is a canister you attach to the hood of a stove. If it senses flames, it will shoot down a powder that extinguishes flames.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield


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