London Fire Brigade

Hot oil sparks warning from Brigade

29 April 2014

Firefighters investigating the cause of a flat fire on Sydney Road in Enfield over the weekend are reminding people never to try and extinguish a hot oil fire with water.

Eight fire engines and 58 firefighters and officers battled the blaze which caused extensive damage to half of the ninth floor flat.

The Brigade’s fire investigators believe the fire started after someone moved an overheated pan of cooking oil, causing it to ignite and fall to the floor.

In an attempt to extinguish the fire, water was poured over the burning oil. As a result, the fire quickly intensified and spread, completely destroying the kitchen and damaging adjoining rooms as well as an external balcony.

Mark Hazelton, the Brigade’s community fire safety Group Manager, said:

“Luckily, all occupants of the flat - including a young child and two babies - safely escaped from the flat, but this could have had a very different outcome.

“If you are cooking with hot oil, it is really important to keep an eye on it all times. Leaving it on the hob unattended is extremely dangerous. And, as we saw here, trying to move the pan can be catastrophic.

“If the pan starts to smoke while you’re cooking, turn the heat off straight away if it’s safe to do so and if it does catch alight, never try to douse the flames with water as water can turn hot oil into a flaming fireball.”

In a separate incident yesterday, firefighters attended a kitchen fire at a flat on Green Lanes in Haringey.
It is believed the fire started after a man left a pan of cooking oil unattended before being locked out of his flat.

Crews wearing breathing apparatus forced entry to the flat and extinguished the fire, which completely destroyed the kitchen and caused smoke damage to the rest of the flat.

The Brigade’s kitchen fire safety tips are as follows:

• Don't move the pan if it overheats or catches fire.

• Never throw water or use a fire extinguisher on a hot oil fire.

• If it is safe to do so - turn off the heat, but never lean over the pan to reach the controls.

• Leave the kitchen, close the door behind you, tell everyone else in the home to get out and don’t go back inside for any reason.

• Call 999