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How Do Grease Fires Start

How do kitchen grease fires start? With kitchen grease – a gross mix of months of oily steam, dust, and last night’s fresh oil splatters that accumulate in hard-to-reach and hard-to-clean crevices in the kitchen.  It’s unhygienic, and everyone knows it, but not a lot of people know that it greatly increases the risk of starting kitchen fires. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) nearly half of kitchen fires start with grease.

how do grease fires start in oven

But do you know what a grease fire is? Or how easily grease fires start?

What Is A Kitchen Grease Fire

A kitchen grease fire on the stove starts when the oil or butter you are cooking with gets too hot, starts smoking, and then catches fire. It can also happen when you put frozen food directly into hot oil, butter, or lard.  Because grease is a liquid it splatters and spreads to any flammable objects in the area – paper toweling, aprons, mittens, dish towels, books, etc.  And that’s how kitchen grease fires start. 

How To Put Out A Grease Fire

This understanding, and remember that oil and water do not mix, will hopefully be what you remember when you need to put out a grease fire.

Remember this when putting out a grease fire:

  • Safely turn down the heat source.
  • If your grease fire started in the oven, close the oven door to deprive it of oxygen.  Keep watching it from outside till it has died down.
  • If your grease fire started on the stove, kill the oxygen flow by covering the fire with a metal lid or cookie sheet.
  • Safely pour lots of baking powder or salt over it if the fire is small.
  • Use a Class K extinguisher aimed at the base of the fire.
  • Call 911 if it is spreading and looks like it could possibly get out of hand.
  • Then close the door and leave the house with loved ones.

Important not to do:

  • Do not use water to try to put the fire out
  • Do not use flour or baking powder if you don’t have salt or baking soda
  • Do not throw any flammable object such as an apron or dish towel over the fire
  • Do not attempt to move the pot or pan
  • Do not cover a pot with a glass lid

How To Prevent Grease Fires

Understanding what grease fires are is the first step in knowing how to avoid them, or put them out.  Keep your eyes on your cooking and switch off the heat when it starts to smoke. 

Knowing what a grease fire is and how it spreads, imagine that hot grease splattering and getting into contact with much more hot grease in a place with lots of airflow and heat, i.e. the kitchen hood. It’s a recipe for disaster.  Here’s where making sure your kitchen is cleaned from grease build-up can help stop grease fires from starting and keep your kitchen safe.


Call our team at (877) 866-3473 for more information about how grease fires start, or get a quote for having your stove hood professionally cleaned via our convenient online form.