As more Thanksgiving cooks plop their turkeys in hot oil instead of the oven, fire departments are warning folks that the process requires extra attention.
“It’s a phenomenon that all the fire departments are having to deal with,” said Brian Schaeffer, assistant chief of the Spokane Fire Department.
“It is a serious problem, but it isn’t an insurmountable problem,” he said.
Oil from a turkey fryer can spill onto the heat source and ignite, or the oil can catch fire on its own if heated long enough.
“It throws the flammable liquid all over the place,” Schaeffer said.
While fire departments are reporting more Thanksgiving fryer fires, 83 percent of turkey day residential blazes are started on stoves or in ovens, according to a 2002 U.S. Fire Administration research paper.
About 1,450 residential fires are reported nationwide on Thanksgiving each year, the fire administration says.
An average of 15 people die and 41 are injured in those blazes.
Doug Fisher, a Spokane Community College chef instructor, will be cooking a 26-pound turkey today – in the oven. Fisher says roasted turkey cooked properly is just as moist as fried poultry.
Besides the safety concerns, frying adds several dollars to the cost because of the gallons of oil needed to surround the bird.
“The thing that bothers me about frying a turkey is the danger involved,” Fisher said. “It is a very risky cooking process.”