By Elizabeth Lenderyou
Three incidents in the last six weeks involving chip pans has caused the Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service to issue a warning to Sunderland residents about the dangers of leaving chip pans unattended.
The warning follows an incident at Ravensworth Street, Millfield, Sunderland on 23rd June. Mrs Carol Schindler returned home with her granddaughters to see smoke coming from the house. Her neighbours had already dialled 999, and were standing outside.
The Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service responded in just four minutes, with two crews from Sunderland Central and Marley Park stations.
Thankfully no-one was injured, including the dog, Barry, who had been saved from the property by the firefighters.
Unfortunately the thick smoke had spread through open interior doors causing severe smoke log, and the kitchen where the fire had originated was devastated.
Mrs Schindler said: “It was such a shock to return to my home and see it on fire. I hadn’t even realised the hob was turned on. I would urge people to take extra care in the kitchen and move pans off the hob when they are not in use. Thankfully we were not harmed, but we could have been. My kitchen has been destroyed and there is smoke damage throughout my home.”
This is the third of three similar incidents in the last six weeks.
A few weeks earlier on the 3rd June, a house in Allendale Road also suffered a fire caused by an unattended chip pan.
The occupant, 78 year old Patricia Kennedy, also believed she had turned the pan off after using it.
She heard a noise that initially sounded like a gate banging, but upon investigation found the pan in flames.
She immediately called 999 and left the house and firefighters administered oxygen therapy but Mrs Kennedy did not require further treatment.
The first of the three fires occurred in the Redhill area on Saturday 28th May.
The blaze was again caused by an unattended chip pan and the occupants were under the influence of alcohol, but luckily no-one sustained any injuries in the three incidents, but the fire service say it could have been a very different story.
Watch Manager Nicole Mordecai of the Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service said: “Most house fires occur in the kitchen, and cooking is one of the biggest causes of kitchen fires. Leaving a chip pan unattended for just a short time can lead to disastrous results, as the oil can soon overheat and catch fire. Always ensure pans are removed from the hob after use, as electric hobs stay hot for some time after they are turned off.
“Our advice would be to switch from a chip pan to oven chips, to help prevent fires from occurring.
“Always make sure you have working smoke alarms fitted on all levels of your home and test them weekly. Keep internal doors closed to reduce the spread of fire.
“In the event of a fire, get out, dial 999 and stay out. Do not try to put a fire out yourself.”