WICHITA FALLS, Texas (TNN) - The Fourth of July calls for celebration, whether it be fireworks or backyard grilling. But if a person isn’t careful, what starts as a grill fire could lead to a home in flames.
“If the fire gets too big, next thing you know the house is on fire,” said Wichita County Deputy Melvin Joyner.
Each year in the United States, 8,700 home fires are caused by grills, with the majority happening in July. A quarter of those occur on a balcony or open porch, leading to 19,000 people going to the ER for injuries.
The main culprit is gas grills, accounting for 85 percent of total grill fires.
“You know a lot of people like to cook on the gas grill," said Cameron Garden Volunteer Fire Department’s Assistant Chief, Nicholas Long. "You get a lot of grease build up and then you get a grease fire and that grease fire’s gonna expand.
During his nine years working at the Sheriff’s office, Joyner says he has witnessed several house fires caused by negligent grilling.
“They’ve built a nice wood fire in their smoker but then they left the top open and the side open to get ventilation," said Joyner. "Next thing you know, the wood sparks and starts out maybe a grass fire endangering a structure. I’ve seen that happen a lot.”
As the holiday approaches, and temperatures begin to creep into the triple digits, remember to make sure you’re grilling outside in an uncovered space....
“Yeah it’s nice to be under a carport or the awning or something and out of the sun,” said Long, “but where are those flames going to go?”
... and your grill is completely cooled off before moving it.
“If you can’t put your hand on top of the grill without it burning you then that’s too hot to put up close to the house,” said Long.
“So use caution, and common sense,” said Joyner.
For more helpful tips on how to grill safely this Fourth of July, click here.