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Four fires started by hot cooking oil

It is apparently a bad time to cook with oil. The Spokane Valley Fire Department responded to four fires caused by overheated cooking oil in the last week, three of them on the same day.

The first was reported in the 24900 block of East Cordova Avenue on March 13. The homeowner used a fire extinguisher to put out the flames and escaped with only a blister on one finger, said Assistant Fire Marshal Bill Clifford.

The other three calls on March 18 were more serious, with all causing first and second degree burns on the hands of residents who tried to carry the burning pans outside. They tried to put the flames out with water, baking soda and salt, none of which did any good, Clifford said.

“Put a lid on it to take away the oxygen,” he said. “That’s going to smother the fire out, and then turn the burner off. Do not remove the lid. It’s already at its ignition temperature. Once you take off the lid it will start back up again.”

The first of the three was reported in the 1800 block of North Balfour Road. The second was in an apartment at 11920 E. Mansfield and the third was in an apartment at 225 S. Adams Road.

The department also spent a lot of time responding to seven illegal yard waste fires. The fires tie up crews that may be needed for an emergency, Clifford said. “No burning of yard waste is allowed,” he said.

Other calls from March 13-19

March 13: A fire was reported at 14512 E. Valleyway. Deputies arrived on scene first and helped four people escape the home. An overloaded electrical outlet started the fire that caused an estimated $75,000 in damage.

March 15: The engine compartment and front end of an SUV burned in the 16900 block of East 17th Court. Someone tearing down a back porch in the 3800 block of North Edgerton Road caused the porch to collapse and knock the gas meter off the house. Avista was called.

March 17: A dumpster fire was reported in the 6100 block of East Sixth Avenue.

March 18: A cell phone caller reported seeing an upside down kayak in the Spokane River near Stateline. Firefighters found a man who was practicing rolls in his kayak and needed no assistance. A vehicle hit a gas meter in the 19000 block of East Boone Avenue. Avista was called.

March 19: A man reportedly went 30 feet up a pine tree to rescue a cat in the 11300 block of East 19th Avenue. The caller said the man was stuck and couldn’t get down. When firefighters arrived the man was on the ground and didn’t need help. He also had rescued the cat.

By the numbers: Crews responded to 237 calls, including 193 emergency medical services calls. The responses included two calls for trees on power lines, 14 car accidents and three reports of children accidentally locked inside vehicle.