Close call in early morning kitchen blaze
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — A close call Friday at at Keystone condo shows the importance of maintaining sprinkler systems, according to Lake Dillon Fire-Rescue spokesman Steve Lispher, who said firefighters responded to the morning call after a resident left a pot of oil on a hot burner a short distance beneath a microwave oven.
The oil generated enough heat to start the fire, which climbed up some adjacent cabinetry until a sprinkler head in the vaulted ceiling over the kitchen activated. The fire was kept in check by a fire-sprinkler system until firefighters from Lake Dillon Fire-Rescue arrived a short time later to extinguish the flames that smoldered beneath the overhanging kitchen fascia, which partially had shielded the fire from the sprinkler.
The fire in the eight-unit building caused an estimated $12,000 in damage.
A recent report on a Denver television station noted that in a few isolated cases around the country, sprinklers with anti-freeze solutions in them — common in the high country because of our cold temperatures — actually have caused flare-ups and exacerbated fires. The Colorado Fire Chiefs Association and the National Fire Protection Association have been concerned about this possibility for some time but said the benefits of sprinklers far outweigh the risks.
The Fire chiefs group has issued guidelines for proper maintenance of residential sprinklers, including using a factory-made mixture of no more than 50 percent anti-freeze in sprinkler pipes and having the solution drained, remixed, tested and replaced by a certified sprinkler company every year.
On a side note, the resident in Keystone attempted to put out the fire by tossing flour onto the flames, which didn’t have the desired effect. If ever confronted with a kitchen-grease fire, douse it with baking soda or slide a lid over the burning pot. Do not ever throw water on a grease fire, as that can cause an explosive fireball.