Thursday, October 9, 2008

Cooking fire displaces one, damages IV apartment


Food left cooking on a stove ignited a fire in an Isla Vista apartment yesterday afternoon, destroying the kitchen and displacing a resident, fire officials said.
Firefighters arrived at the six-unit complex at 6538 Sabado Tarde to find smoke pouring from the door and windows of the upstairs apartment, County Fire Capt. Eli Iskow said.

After breaking into the building, crews knocked down the flames quickly and evacuated other apartments, authorities said. In addition to minor structural damage, many of the apartment’s contents suffered major smoke and heat damage, Capt. Iskow said, including electronics, appliances and clothing.
“The resident, an adult male, was not at home at the time of the fire but returned during the knock-down,” he said. “He stated that he had inadvertently left a pan on the stove, causing the cooking fire that spread to the kitchen cabinets and structure.”
A smoke alarm in the apartment tipped off residents in the apartment below. After initially ignoring the alarm, Capt. Iskow said they looked outside, saw smoke coming from the apartment above and called 911.
Due to smoke and structural damage estimated at $20,000, the resident will have to find another place to stay, officials said, adding that the Red Cross will offer assistance if his plan to stay with friends falls through.
Capt. Iskow also noted that this is Fire Prevention Week, a designation established to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire that killed more than 250 people and left 100,000 homeless in 1971. The theme this year is “Prevent Home Fires.”
Fire safety tips released by authorities to coincide with Fire Prevention Week highlighted cooking incidents, which Capt. Iskow described as the No. 1 cause of home fires.
Safety suggestions include staying in the kitchen when frying, grilling or broiling food — or shutting off the stove if leaving the room. Anything flammable should be kept away from the stovetop and cooks should avoid wearing loose clothing that can dangle onto burners.
Capt. Iskow also released a series of tips for general fire safety in the home, including electrical, heating, smoking and candle safety.

Electrical Safety
-Keep lamps, light fixtures and light bulbs away from flammable materials, such as lampshades, bedding, curtains and clothing
-Replace cracked and damaged electrical cords
-Use extension cords for temporary wiring only and consider having additional circuits or receptacles added by a professional

Heating Safety
-Install and maintain carbon monoxide alarms to avoid risk of carbon monoxide poisoning
-Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and expected annually
-Turn off portable space heaters when going to bed or leaving the room

Smoking Safety
-Smoke outside if possible or use deep, sturdy ashtrays
-Keep matches and lighters out of the reach of children or in a locked cabinet

-Keep candles at least 12 inches from flammable items and use sturdy candleholders
-Never leave a burning candle unattended and blow out candles when leaving a room
-Avoid using candles in bedrooms and sleeping areas

Home Safety 101
-Install smoke alarms in every bedroom on every level
-Test smoke alarms at least once a month
-Have a home fire escape plan and practice it twice a year

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