SACRAMENTO COUNTY, Calif. — Fire officials say they respond to more cooking fires on Thanksgiving than any other day of the year, with most of them starting while deep-frying a turkey.
“Thanksgiving brings an increase in structure fires,” said Capt. Parker Wilbourn with the Sacramento Metropolitan District. “Last year, we had 57 fire calls.”
Every year, thousands of these fires are reported nationwide, causing an average of five deaths, 60 injuries and the destruction of 900 homes, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
Firefighters advise people to make sure they position their fryer more than ten feet away from their home, away from kids and pets, find a flat surface, and ensure the turkey is completely thawed.
Extra water can cause the boiling oil inside the fryer to spill over and ignite a fire that can spread to surrounding structures.
“When you do drop that turkey in, do so very slowly and make sure you don’t have any overflow and that turkey is completely submerged,” Wilbourn said.
The National Fire Prevention Association says cooking fires are the leading cause of house fires in the country, with many kitchen fires starting near the stove. Fire officials urge homeowners to keep an eye on their food, especially when it's cooking on high heat, and remove any oven mitts or towels nearby that may be flammable.
“A lot of those fires happen because things are unattended or just careless activities,” Wilbourn said. “Whether you have a combustible that’s near your heating source. Maybe kids or pets that are playing near the three-foot section that we want cleared out or if you just leave the room for a minute and bad things happen.”
They note fires can happen quickly, so it’s wise to have a fire extinguisher handy and working smoke detectors in the home.
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