National Chip Week starts with two chip pan blazes in West Yorkshire

Two chip pan fires in Bradford and Leeds have put a dampener on the start of National Chip Week for West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (WYFRS).

Despite delivering safety messages to the community in the run up to the national event, fire chiefs are concerned their warnings are not getting through.

To emphasise the potential dangers of chip pans we have released a video of a controlled display showing what happens if people try and extinguish a chip pan fire with water.

At 1945 hrs yesterday (February 15) two engines from Bradford Fire Station attended a chip pan fire at a flat in Oakroyd Terrace, Bradford, which resulted in a teenager and a young adult (both female) being taken to hospital for precautionary check-ups and suffering from smoke inhalation.

At 00.50 hrs today (February 16) engines from Cookridge, Moortown and Leeds, were called to a chip pan fire in a flat on the ninth floor of high-rise building, Norman Towers, Spen Lane, West Park, Leeds. The chip pan was out on arrival but a teenage girl was taken to hospital by ambulance suffering minor burns to right arm, right hand and leg and smoke inhalation. Fire crews used a high-powered fan to ventilate the flat.

Assistant Chief Fire Officer Dave Walton said: “These are the most recent in a spate of chip pan fires we have seen over the past few weeks. Despite our warnings, the message does not seem to be getting through.

“Chip pan fires really can be ferocious because of the incredibly high temperatures reached and as a result can cause some horrendous injuries. Fires in high-rise buildings can also be particularly challenging for firefighters and this is why we train at these venues specifically for this kind of scenario.”

In the last three years West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (WYFRS) dealt with 345 chip pan fires – one of which resulted in a fatality.

Furthermore, 84 people were left with injuries requiring hospitalisation and a further 69 people were injured but did not need to go to hospital.

Top tips:

  • Take care when cooking with oil – it sets alight easily.
  • If the oil starts to smoke, it’s too hot.  Turn off the heat and leave it to cool.
  • Use a thermostat controlled electric deep fat fryer for chips.  They can’t overheat.
  • Do not leave cooking unattended and avoid children being alone in the kitchen when cooking on the hob.
  • Don’t overfill a chip pan with oil – never fill it more than one third full.
  • Make sure food is dry before putting it in hot oil so it doesn’t splash.

What to do if a pan catches fire:

  • Don’t take any risks.  Turn the heat off if it is safe to do so.
  • NEVER throw water over it.
  • Don’t tackle the fire yourself – Get Out, Stay Out, Call 999.

Although not a chip pan fire, crews from Leeds and Hunslet attended a second fire in a high-rise premise in Leeds less than an hour and a half earlier than the above.

At 23.27 hrs yesterday (February 15) firefighters attended the tenth floor of  Trinity One, East Street, Leeds. A young woman had returned to her flat to find it filled with smoke.  She had earlier discarded a piece of charcoal in a bin in the kitchen, believing it was extinguished, after using it to burn incense. She had taken the bin bag out of the bin and left it on the kitchen floor before going out. The charcoal had smouldered until it ignited. Smoke detectors were fitted and working and alerted the occupier on her return and a neighbour. Fire damage was minimal but the flat was heavily smoke logged and the neighbouring flat was briefly evacuated.

ACO Walton added: “To have two fires in high-rise buildings in Leeds, only five miles apart, within 90 minutes is a rare occurrence.

“Tenants of high rise properties should pay particular regard to the specific fire safety information that is provided within their premises to ensure that they are well prepared in the unfortunate event of fire breaking out.”

WYFRS is committed to improving safety in high-rise buildings and has previously teamed up with Leeds City Council to install a retro-fit fire sprinkler system at Marsden Court, Leeds.

To see our previous chip pan safety press release click here.