Archive for Thursday, February 12, 2009

Microwave fires becoming common in Lawrence

Firefighters say an apartment fire on Monday was caused by people who were possibly drunk or on drugs.

February 12, 2009


Safe use of microwaves

The National Fire Protection Agency offers these microwave oven safety tips:

  • Read the manufacturer's instructions before using a microwave oven.
  • Plug the oven directly into an outlet. Never use an extension cord because it could overload the circuit and cause a fire.
  • Use only microwave-safe cookware (containers or dishes).
  • Open microwaved food slowly, away from your face. Hot steam escaping from a container or the food itself can cause burns.
  • Never use aluminum foil or metal objects in a microwave oven.
  • If you have a fire in your microwave, turn it off immediately and keep the door closed. Never open the door until the fire is completely out. Have the oven checked and/or serviced before being used again.

Lawrence firefighters have grown accustomed to responding to microwave oven fires.

“We get a lot of burnt popcorn, especially up on campus,” said Lawrence Douglas County Fire Medical Lt. Scott Seratte. “They just punch the button, and then they walk off.”

Seratte said it’s relatively common for dorms and other residential buildings to become smelly and be evacuated. These fires may seem minor in the grand scheme of things, but he said they can leave the rest of the city at risk.

“If you’re running a call for popcorn … you’re pulling a lot of resources from the city that might not be available for someone who’s really having an emergency,” said Seratte, public education specialist.

On Monday morning, firefighters battled a more extensive microwave-related fire at a Lawrence apartment complex near KU. Overheated food in a microwave caused at least $10,000 in fire damage, investigators said.

The fire was caused, in part, by people possibly impaired by alcohol or drugs, a fire report said.

“If you’re inebriated, you shouldn’t be using (a microwave),” Seratte said. “That’s when the wrong time gets punched in.”

Drunken or not, Seratte said many people become inappropriately complacent when it comes to using microwaves, because of their simplicity and convenience.

“A microwave oven is just like a pan or a stove; you’ve just got to pay attention,” he said.

While larger fires aren’t commonly started by microwaves, Seratte said Monday’s fire is a prime example of how flames and heat can get out of microwave vents, if enough food’s left inside — and then spread to flammables, such as cabinets or dish towels.


labmonkey 9 years, 1 month ago

Remember when AOL used to send out those CD's? I loved putting those in the microwave for 4 seconds and watch the microwave zap it.

Rob Zerwekh 9 years, 1 month ago

I once microwaved a cup of mouthwash. That was as pleasant as putting milk in the freezer.

Harpo 9 years, 1 month ago

Friends don't let Friends Drink and Defrost

BrianR 9 years, 1 month ago

"Add A Minute" is my favorite button.

texasgal 9 years, 1 month ago

They ought to have the microwaves like i have. if it gets to hot it shuts itself down. I was ready to throw mine out till i went back in after 30 minutes and it worked. Maybe that is giving them more chances of irresponsibility. Some people will never learn.

Tyson Travis 9 years, 1 month ago

I'm shopping for a walk-in model big enough to hold my "Jayhawk on Parade," too dangerous zapping it in the street and harming innocent mailboxes....

Charlie Sabotage 9 years, 1 month ago

this is awesome. sweet revenge on enemies. sneak into their house and overtime a microwave. simple accident. WOW> people are idiots. how DOES one forget the rules of microwaving? i guess that's why they say to read the instructions before operating. drunks and their microwaving, shame

Chris Ogle 9 years, 1 month ago

Only thing worse than drunken pizza (burnt to a crisp) is the Burrito King surprise wihen you wake up with all that grease leaking on the new shirt. Makes a guy wanna quit drinking.

Trobs 9 years, 1 month ago

Parrotuya...give it up

I set my microwave on fire from the stove last year. I wonder if they count that in the number of fires

ThatGirl2 9 years, 1 month ago

Doesn't it say right on the bag of popcorn not to "walk away" while it's popping? How much more obvious could that be?

Charlie Sabotage 9 years, 1 month ago

this is serious news. your neighbor could have a popcorn incident, if you live in an apartment and your house could smell like burnt popcorn forever. these are things people need to know

Commenting has been disabled for this item.