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You know in life you do some pretty stupid things. Everyone does. Yes, even you. Well I did something pretty friggin stupid once in 2004 and I will never do that again.
I was home alone one night and felt a desire for some hot chips. I didn’t have any at home and we lived right across the road from the supermarket so I decided I would go for a walk and get some. Would take me 5 minutes tops.
I can’t stand oven baked chips and because I was so hungry and wanted to be a time saving man, I put the oil on heat knowing I would only be a few minutes.
I went to the supermarket and bought the chips but while there, I got a phone call from my sister and spent a bit too long talking to her while buying them and on the walk home.
As I get to the front door I hang up from her and open the door. What I am greeted with made my heart almost stop before igniting into a billion beats a minute.
A bright orange glow that was emitting from the kitchen.
I couldn’t see the flames as the oven was not visible from the front door but I knew immediately what was happening.
I’ve rushed inside to the kitchen and see that the saucepan full of oil is on fire as the oil had bubbled over the edge onto the red hot element below. I seriously had only been gone no more than 10 minutes.
There is smoke filling up the house as the greasy smoke begins to take over. The flames from the saucepan are a good 30cm above it. This fire is raging.
I think hard about what to do. Fire needs oxygen to exist. Block the oxygen.
So I grab the saucepan lid and try to get close enough to it to put the lid on it. The flames are too hot and intense and I can’t quite reach. I try to lob the lid onto the saucepan and success, it hits the spot but is immediately blown off and onto the side bench next to the oven.
I don’t have a fire extinguisher or fire blanket and I’m not going to throw a tea towel on it.
It’s now that I notice that the overhead exhaust hood is melting! One side of it is dangling precariously and I know it won’t be long until it falls down straight onto the saucepan full of its boiling oil and orange passenger. If that happens the house will go up in flames and I’ll lose everything.
I have no more options. I have only seconds left until the exhaust hood falls and condemns the house and possibly myself. I’m not gonna let that happen.
I grab a tea towel and proceed to pick up the saucepan. If I can walk slowly enough the walk to the front door is only about 6 metres. If I walk slowly enough the flames will continue to shoot upwards away from my hand.
I gotta get this out of the house.
The heat is intense but bearable. I slowly start walking but then the flames wrap around my hand as I walk, a bit too quickly obviously.
The pain is unbelievable but I know if I drop this saucepan I will go up in flames as well as the house. I continue to head for the front door. So close but oh so far.
Time stops as the flames continue to cover my hand but I cannot stop and I cannot let go. Too much rides on me making the front door.
Finally I make it and I literally throw the saucepan once I’ve cleared the front door. It hits the fence which is only a couple of metres away from the front – we lived in a small duplex at the time – I must have been walking faster than I thought and momentum helped it go that distance.
It hits the fence and there is a small boom noise. Not sure why but it was a mini explosion. I grab the hose and after giving my hand a soak I put out the fire.
Phew, crisis avoided.
I go back inside and see the nothing but black putrid smoke as the plastic around the exhaust hood has melted plus the actual greasy oil smoke as well which has now clung to every surface throughout the house.
I open all the windows and put the ceiling fans on full to try and clear the smoke. The walls which were white only a few minutes now are all grey. I’ve made one hell of a mess.
I put my hand under the cold water tap for a few minutes. It’s really sore. I mean really sore and very, very red.
I then fill up a bucket and go to the couch and lay down with my arm dangling over the side directly into it. I don’t think it is bad enough to go to hospital. I am a man and that is always the last resort after all.
Within 5 minutes the cool water is now warm. There is some serious heat being radiated out of my hand so I empty the bucket and fill it again this time adding a pack of frozen peas to the bucket.
Twenty minutes later and the frozen peas are mushy and the water is warm again. At this stage my wife comes home to the scene of disaster and tells me I really should go to hospital. Being the obedient husband I am, I do.
The pain is pretty bad by now and for someone with a high tolerance I know I’m in trouble. The hand has started to blister. I use to have a photo but can’t find it but I’ll try and describe the affected area.
I was holding the saucepan with my right hand and as you know when you hold something you mainly are using your thumb and index finger. Make the L sign with your hand now as you read this. Done it? Good. That is the area that is burnt the most. Essentially from the mid finger of the index finger to the mid part of the thumb and everywhere inbetween. There’s some smaller areas which are burnt too but they aren’t too bad.
It’s a busy night in the hospital and it takes them a few hours to see me. When they do it’s pretty bad. They give me pain relief and treat the burn. They encase the hand in some kind of plastic which I can’t even begin to describe. It stays inside this ‘glove’ for about 5 weeks. The blister grew bigger and bigger over the days before eventually popping.
Here’s how my hand looks today.
I got off lucky! Very lucky indeed. You can just make out the scar and it took a while for the hair to grow back!
Morale of the story – Eat healthier meals and invest in a fire extinguisher and blanket but the main lesson is never, ever leave a saucepan full of oil unattended.
I never ended up eating that night. For some reason I lost my appetite!
What have you done that is stupid? Wanna share? I’d love to know I’m not the only idiot out there.