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What to do if your oven catches fire

Katherine Martinelli is an internationally published food and travel writer and photographer who contributes regularly to publications on three continents. She recently released her first cookbook, Puff Pastry at Brunch: 10 Sweet and Sa...

Stay calm and keep safe

If you’ve ever tried to roast a duck or cook something with a lot of grease in your oven, then you may have experienced a flame-up. These can be scary but are easily put out with these easy steps.
Woman burning oven

Most fires in the home happen in the kitchen, so it is good to be prepared in case of emergency. Oven fires are frightening, but are usually easily contained and can often be easily prevented.

Why it happens

Your oven can catch fire for a few reasons:

  • If you are cooking something with a lot of fat and grease, it can splatter and cause a flame.
  • If you are baking, the batter could overflow, drip to the bottom and start a small fire.
  • Sometimes food scraps or other items might be left in your oven, and they could catch fire.
  • Forgetting something in the oven can also lead to burned food, lots of smoke and in some instances, a fire.
  • Some people have even reported their ovens catching fire when they had the self-cleaning feature on.

Read about keeping kids safe in the kitchen >>

What to do

  1. Leave the oven door closed!
  2. Turn off the oven and allow the fire to burn out on its own.
  3. If it does not go out on its own, leave the house and call 911.
  4. If it does go out, then open your windows.
  5. Carefully open the oven door (it will be smoky!) and remove the hot pan.
  6. Allow the smoke to clear before determining the cause of the fire and possibly resuming cooking.

Although Step 1 may seem counter-intuitive, opening the door will only cause the fire to expand. By keeping the door closed and turning off the heat, you are starving the fire, since it can’t burn without oxygen. Only when you are sure the fire is out should you open the oven door and proceed.

Read more on how to prevent kitchen fires >>

How to prevent it

  • Do not leave cooking food unattended.
  • Make sure your oven is clean before use.
  • When making cakes and pastries, put a slightly larger baking tray underneath your baking pan or cupcake tin.
  • Put a cover on food that might splatter. If you are roasting a duck and want a crispy skin, remove it from the oven every half-hour or so and carefully drain some of the hot grease.
  • Get your oven checked out by a professional to make sure it is working properly.

More on home safety

How and why to replace an electrical outlet
Be prepared for an earthquake
Top 5 hidden home hazards

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