Two people evacuated from flat after ‘fireball’ fire

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Two people had to be evacuated from a flat in Banbury after a chip pan fire turned into a ‘fireball’.

Firefighters found a distressed young woman on the balcony of her first floor flat in Marshall Road at about 7.15pm yesterday (Thursday).

As crews stood by in breathing apparatus ready to tackle the fire, Officer in Charge, Watch Manager Vince Davies confirmed that there was still a large amount of residual smoke within the property, so he ordered the evacuation of two young residents.

The fire service said that the young woman discovered the fire immediately, but in a moment of panic thought she was doing the right thing by throwing a cup of water on it in an attempt to put it out.

Station Manager Mick Clarke, who also attended the scene said: “The young lady was extremely lucky. Although she thought she was acting correctly, unfortunately took the worst possible action when confronted with the burning oil of a chip pan fire. As the water makes contact with the burning oil, it first sinks to the bottom of the pan and then boils, due to the heat of the fire. When water turns to steam, it expands over 1,700 times, ejecting the burning oil and resulting in an explosive fireball, which all happens in a fraction of a second. In this instance, the scorch marks from the fireball were visible on the ceiling up to 15’ away from the cooker.”

Oxfordshire Fire & Rescue Service would like to remind everyone never to throw water on a fat pan fire, and if possible turn down the heat and apply a damp (not wet) towel.

Visit www.365alive.co.uk for fire safety advice. If you have a fire safety question please call the free phone community safety helpline on 08000 325 999 or email: community.safety@oxfordshire.gov.uk