Firefighters demonstrate dangers of two common holiday fire risks

Nash Morse laughs as he plays with Bank of Montgomery’s mascot, Monte the Owl. Photos by Nathan Wilson

Nathan Wilson
Firefighters from Natchitoches City and Parish Fire Departments joined staff from the Natchitoches Campus of Bossier Parish Community College to host a Fire Safety and Prevention Open House Oct. 6.
To alert the public about fire safety and prevention, the free event featured lessons on how to prevent, plan for and respond to household fires and included live demonstrations of two common holiday fire risks: grease fires and Christmas tree blazes. In other words, firefighters made a turkey explode and burned a wooden shack to the ground . The event also served as a venue to meet local celebrities such as Sparky the Fire Dog, BPCC mascot Captain Cavalier and career and volunteer firefighters from around the parish.
Grease fires caused by frying turkeys are a notable hazard during the holidays because of the lack of familiarity by food preparers, high cooking temperatures and the prevalence of solid ice within frozen turkeys. The rapid vaporization of moisture when the turkey is introduced into the hot grease can lead to explosive results.
Fire safety advocates recommend addressing safety concerns around frying turkeys by becoming familiar with proper siting and operation of the turkey frying apparatus. The cooking area should be kept clear of combustible materials, the turkey should be completely thawed beforehand, and the fryer should not be overfilled with oil. Additionally the fryer should be located on a stable, level, non-combustible surface that is not accessible to unattended children and pets. Safety advocates also recommend keeping gloves, goggles and an all-purpose fire extinguisher on hand when operating the fryer.
Christmas tree fires typically occur when live Christmas trees become dry and ignite from the heat caused by illuminated bulbs, though electrical fires caused by damaged Christmas lights are also a concern.

Experts recommend selecting a tree with green needles, cutting off the bottom of the tree before placing it in the tree stand and keeping the tree watered at all times while it is on display. Trees should be placed away from heat sources within the home and should not block exits. Christmas lights should be visually checked for signs of worn or damaged wires and connections and should be rated appropriately for indoors or outdoors based on where they are displayed.