Fort Smith Firefighters Offer Tips To Prevent Cooking Fires

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

FORT SMITH (KFSM)— Many of you have probably already started preparing your Thanksgiving meals, and local firefighters want to remind you of the risk of cooking fires.

“Everybody wants to fry turkey, and in doing so, frying turkeys can be a relatively simple process if you remember the safety tips,” Fire Marshal Tommy Bishop said.

Bishop is a battalion chief and fire marshal at the Fort Smith Fire Department. He said if you plan to deep-fry a turkey, make sure it’s thawed out before putting it in the deep-fryer.

“If not, it can pretty much make for an explosive situation,” he said.

Experts said don’t overheat your oil, and turn OFF the burner before you slowly lower the bird into the fryer. Be sure the fryer is on a concrete surface away from any leaves.

“Make sure that you check the level of the cooking oil within the deep fryer, because if you get it too full, then actually you`re gonna have an overflow and that could also create problems,” Bishop said. “We in the past have had incidences where people have lost their whole deck and the backside of their house for frying turkeys on the back deck.”

According to data from the U.S. Fire Administration, an estimated 2,000 Thanksgiving Day fires occur each year nationwide, resulting in an average of five deaths, 25 injuries and $21 million in property loss.

Fort Smith firefighters said they battled nine fires around the Thanksgiving Holiday in 2012, six fires in 2013 and nine in 2014.

“On average, I would estimate probably maybe three or four a year around this time as far as the cooking fires,” Bishop said.

The fire marshal also said to make sure you turn your burners off in the kitchen whenever you leave the area, and to turn pot handles toward the back so they can't be bumped or toppled.