Fast-acting neighbor keeps east Tucson kitchen fire from spreading to other apartments

2014-05-14T10:40:00Z Fast-acting neighbor keeps east Tucson kitchen fire from spreading to other apartmentsKimberly Matas Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
May 14, 2014 10:40 am  • 

A cooking fire damaged the kitchen of an east side apartment Tuesday night, but a quick-thinking neighbor kept the blaze from spreading.

Firefighters were called just before 9:30 p.m. to an apartment in the 7400 block of East 22nd Street between South Kolb and Prudence roads.

A woman had used cooking oil earlier in the night to make dinner for her family, Capt. Barrett Baker, spokesman for the Tucson Fire Department, said in a news release.

“After making dinner, one child wanted more food,” Baker said. “The mother went back to the kitchen and turned the stove back on. The child then changed his mind and no longer wanted the food, but the mother forgot to turn the stove back off. Minutes later, the oil ignited and started a fire on the stove top, extending into the cabinets above.”

The woman and her three children fled the apartment and knocked on the neighbor’s door as they evacuated the building.

“The neighbor grabbed a fire extinguisher in the hallway and entered the apartment. He extinguished the flames and also shut down electricity to the apartment at the breaker panel,” Baker said.

Fire crews arrived on scene within four minutes and found heavy smoke still in the apartment, but no visible flames, Baker said. They used thermal imaging cameras to ensure the fire had not spread into the attic space.

Eight units and 21 firefighters responded to the call.

Because the kitchen was heavily damaged, the two adults and three children who lived in the apartment were going to stay with relatives, Baker said.

He did not have a cost estimate for the damage.

“Cooking causes close to half of all reported house fires,” Baker said. “Unattended cooking is by far the leading contributor to those fires.”

He recommends residents always remain in the kitchen while cooking and have a fire extinguisher or lid ready in case the oil ignites.

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