Residents’ response to apartment kitchen fire ‘recipe for saving lives’

The first kitchen fire reported in Beaufort or Port Royal this year ended on a high note as the apartment resident and a neighbor did everything right to escape and put out the fire, Beaufort Fire Chief Sammy Negron said.

Around 6 p.m. last Wednesday, a woman in her Southside Boulevard apartment apparently forgot about oil in a pan on her hot stove, Negron said. As the oil began smoking, though, the apartment’s smoke detector went off, allowing the woman to pick up an infant and leave the apartment.

As she and the child escaped, she dialed 911. A downstairs resident, hearing the smoke alarm, brought a fire extinguisher to the woman’s apartment and doused the small stove fire.

“In 2012, more than 50 percent of all fires in Beaufort and Port Royal originated in the kitchen,” Negron said. “The distracted chef is the root cause of most of the kitchen fires in our communities. Fortunately, the apartment’s smoke alarms sounded very quickly. Early detection and warning by smoke alarms is a family’s best defense against a fire fatality.”

The apartment complex doesn’t have a fire-suppressing sprinkler system, but the combination of the smoke detector, the woman’s quick reaction to leave her apartment and her neighbor’s response with a fire extinguisher helped prevent disaster, Negron said.

“In this small fire, the combination of early detection, notification to 911, escape from the dwelling and then putting out the fire was the recipe for saving lives,” he said.

Key points to remember in case fire threatens inside your home:

• Pay attention when cooking and don’t leave the stove or oven unattended

• Be sure all smoke detectors are working properly, including regular checks of the batteries

• Keep and maintain a charged fire extinguisher near the kitchen

• In the event of a fire, get yourself and your family out of the building quickly

• Close doors behind you as you exit — this will keep the fire from spreading as quickly

• Notify emergency services as quickly as possible.

For more information about the Beaufort-Port Royal Fire Department, contact the Beaufort-Port Royal Fire Department at 843-525-7055 or city-fire@cityofbeaufort.org or find them on Facebook as City of Beaufort Fire Department.

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