In summer, fire dangers heat up

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After the winter that never seemed to end, summer has finally arrived and with it the time for grilling, days by the pool and outdoor activities.


For most people, that means a time for fun with friends and family. For the Danville Fire Department, that means warning people about the dangers of their summer activities — and teaching them ways to partake safely.


Danville Fire Marshal Shelby Irving wants people to enjoy the things they love about summer, but she urges residents of Danville to do so safely.


» Unattended cooking and discarded smoking materials are the most common fires firefighters respond to, Irving said. Firefighters responded to multiple calls last week regarding mulch fires because of people tossing out lit cigarettes that led to small fires.


Luckily, Irving said, firefighters were able to put out the fires before any damage was done. A couple of weeks ago, firefighters responded to Outback Steakhouse to extinguish a blazed started by a discarded cigarette that caught the exterior of the restaurant on fire.


The damage was minimal and business was able to resume. Irving said that’s why it’s important to make sure cigarettes are completely out and placed in a proper container rather than tossing to the ground.


Unattended cooking fires are one of the easiest fires to avoid by doing a few simple things. Staying in the kitchen — regardless of what is being used — is a good place to start. Irving said even something as simple as keeping the stove burners really clean can help.


It doesn’t take long for a fire to start, Irving explained. It takes one flash from the pan to the cabinets and then the kitchen is on fire.


“Please stay in the kitchen and watch what you’re cooking,” Irving cautioned. “It doesn’t take long. It’s going to flash and start a fire.”



» Outdoor fire pits can be popular gathering places during almost any type of weather, and while they are perfectly legal, Irving said, they should be treated just like grills. They should be an appropriate amount of distance from the structure also, Irving cautioned, to avoid any potential problems.



» One of the most important things people can do before they start grilling, she explained, is make sure the grill is in a proper place.


State law prohibits a grill from being on a deck or patio of an apartment, and she said her office has received calls and had to go out and have people remove the grill. The best place for a grill, she added, is 15 to 20 feet from the residence — whether that is a house or an apartment.


Grills — whether it’s a gas or charcoal grill — get extremely hot and can melt the siding of a home. Before firing up a gas grill, Irving said the best thing to do is check the gas tanks, hoses and gauges to make sure they are not defective.


Gas can leak out of them, she continued, and that can create a potentially dangerous situation.


Charcoal grills have to stay completely dry and shouldn’t be stored in a place where they will get wet, Irving explained. When using a charcoal grill, it’s important that the coals are disposed of properly and not just thrown into a yard.


The coals need to be flooded with water and placed in something like a metal bucket, Irving explained, which will keep people from getting burned or fires from starting.


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