NEWS RELEASE: Burning cakes, flaming turkeys, boiling water: E-Comm fire dispatchers warn kitchen fires most destructive

Vancouver, B.C. — Kitchen fires are the fastest-spreading and most destructive type of residential fire, and with Fire Prevention Week and Thanksgiving just around the corner, E-Comm’s fire dispatch team is reminding home chefs to take proper cooking precautions to reduce hazards.

“One of the most common 9-1-1 fire calls we receive is from people who have accidently left a boiling pot on the stove,” says Trish McMurray, E-Comm Fire Dispatcher. “The results can be devastating; please don’t ever leave a pot unattended on the stove or go out of the house while food is cooking in the oven.”

From burning cakes, to flaming turkeys and boiling water mishaps, the number one cause of residential fires originates in the kitchen. E-Comm’s fire dispatchers receive all kinds of calls from people experiencing dangerous situations in the kitchen.

E-Comm dispatchers’ top five 9-1-1 kitchen fire calls:

  • Hot oil fires/grease fires: oil heats up faster than most people realize and can lead to kitchen fires when food is left cooking for too long or left unattended.
  • Boiling water: people will often step away from the stove while they wait for water to boil and if left unattended for too long, the water will evaporate, leaving an empty pot to burn on the stove.
  • Oven fires/dirty ovens: oven fires can occur when food is left unattended cooking in the oven, or when food spills over from a baking tray/casserole dish and falls on the heating source.
  • Microwaves: using non-microwavable dishes can be very dangerous and result in a house fire. It is also common for people to accidently set the timer on their microwave for one hour instead of one minute and not return to check on their food.
  • Loose clothing: when taking food out of the oven or off a burner loose clothing can sometimes touch the element and catch fire.

“Recently we had a call from a person who microwaved a beanbag (used for sore muscles) for two hours instead of two minutes, causing extensive smoke damage,” says Jennifer Gjaltema, E-Comm Fire Dispatch Manager. “Luckily no one was hurt, but this is a prime example of just how fast something so simple can go extremely wrong. Taking steps to prevent fires from starting in your kitchen can be life-saving.”

Whether it’s a boiling pot, faulty wire or hot surface, reducing risks in your kitchen can be simple – and it all starts with being mindful of surroundings. E-Comm recommends these tips for keeping your family safe in the kitchen:

  • Never use water to douse a grease/oil fire as this will only cause the fire to escalate. Use a lid to cover the pot or throw salt on the flames to help snuff out the fire.
  • Always keep flammables such as kitchen towels or cooking oils away from the stove.
  • Keep your appliances serviced and wipe off any accidental spills from your stovetop. Never cook on a dirty surface.
  • Keep pot handles turned towards the back of the stove to limit chances of someone walking by and knocking it over.
  • Never leave anything on the burner unattended. If you have to leave for a few moments make sure you turn off the element you are using.
  • Never leave the house with any food in the oven or on the stovetop.
  • Whether you’re using your stovetop or your oven always set a timer. This will let others in the house know that something is cooking.
  • Keep a portable fire extinguisher within an arms reach.
  • Unplug appliances when you’re not using them. Many appliances draw electricity when they’re not in use.
  • Ensure your smoke alarm is active and located away from your kitchen (preferably 3 meters). Never disconnect a smoke alarm.

National Fire Prevention Week runs October 6-12 2013. For more helpful tips visit:


E-Comm answers close to one-million 9-1-1 calls each year for Metro Vancouver, the Sunshine Coast Regional District, Whistler, Squamish and the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District (south). For tips on using 9-1-1 and more information about E-Comm visit or follow E-Comm’s Twitter feed @ecomm911_info.

Media Contact:
Jody Robertson
E-Comm 9-1-1
604-215-4956 or 604-640-1342 (pager)
[email protected]