Essex County Fire and Rescue Service


Two cooking oil fires in one day: Are you using your kitchen safely?

Did you know that three quarters of all house fires in Essex start in the kitchen?

Yesterday (Wednesday 29 November), two separate fires related to cooking oil broke out within hours of each other - leaving homes severely damaged.

The first fire, which has left a kitchen in Thorpe Bay badly damaged, was caused after the homeowner fell asleep and left a chip pan alight.

While crews were able to contain damage to the kitchen, the homeowner was fortunate to escape unharmed after falling asleep in his flat which did not have a working smoke alarm.

The second incident was more serious and occurred in a high-rise block of flats in Colchester.

This time, a pan of oil had ignited and engulfed surrounding cupboards – and the property has been left uninhabitable.


Are you cooking safely?

While you might think you’re a dab hand at cooking, safety should always be at the forefront of your mind when you’re knocking up something to eat.

Cooking fires can be volatile – so it’s vital you follow our advice and get to enjoy that meal you’ve been looking forward to without putting yourself at risk.

If you’ve been drinking alcohol, never put food on to cook at home… you could easily fall asleep and forget about it.

While cooking:

  • Be careful if you’re wearing loose clothing – it could catch alight.
  • Keep tea towels and cloths well away from the hob.
  • Never leave cooking pans unattended. If you need to leave the room, take them off the heat or at least turn them down.
  • Make sure saucepan handles aren’t sticking out or in awkward positions where they could be knocked over.

If you’re cooking with oil:

  • Make sure food is dry before putting it in the hot oil, so it doesn’t splash.
  • If the oil starts to smoke – it’s too hot. Turn off the heat and leave it to cool down.
  • Use a thermostat-controlled electric deep fat fryer. They can’t overheat.
  • If your pan catches fire, turn off the heat if it is safe to do so. NEVER throw water over it.

When you’ve finished preparing your meal, double-check the cooker or hob is off.

Remember – if a fire breaks out in your kitchen… Get out, stay out and call the fire service out.

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