31 May 1996

What to do when chip pan catches fire

NEVER throw water on a chip pan fire. It will only make matters far worse.

Officers on the fire brigades stand demonstrated the correct way to handle such conflagrations which are usually caused by leaving a pan unattended so that it overheats and bursts into flames, or adding far too much fat or oil. Never fill the pan more than one-third full or trouble may occur when the chips are added. Make sure chips are dried well before cooking.

Never lift a burning pan, the officers stressed. Turn off the gas or electricity if you can do so without leaning over the cooker. Cover the flaming pan with a lid, or a damp but well wrung tea towel (being careful not to expose any part of your hand to the heat) or use a fire blanket. Leave the pan for at least 30 minutes.

If you remove the pan cover too soon the flames will start again, warned the fire officers pointing out that there are more than 500 chip pan fires in Northern Ireland each year and 75% of house fires start in the kitchen.

The merest splash of water, added at poles length, caused flames to leap.