Grilling this weekend? Safety tips

MUKILTEO — Discarded barbecue charcoal last week torched a Mukilteo home and caused $200,000 in damage.

To ensure your celebration doesn’t take a tragic turn this Memorial Day, take precautions before you fire up the grill, officials urge.

This weekend and always, people should “be safe with fire and make sure to keep the kids away from it,” said Snohomish Fire and Rescue Battalion Chief Craig Heike.

The leading cause of fires sparked by charcoal grills is placing materials that can burn too close to the grill, according to the National Fire Prevention Association.

Remember to keep grills away from combustibles, Heike said. Don’t leave them where children can find them. If using briquettes, remember that they remain hot for 24 hours, and store them in a metal container. If using lighter fluid, spray a small amount and avoid adding lighter fluid to an existing fire, Heike said.

If you are using propane tanks, don’t store them in the sun, Heike said. The gas will expand in the heat. “That’s the most common problem we see during warm weather,” he said.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission also issued tips for using gas grills. Turn off the gas right away if you notice a leak. Don’t try to light the grill again until the leak is fixed.

Also, keep the top open when lighting a gas grill. If the grill doesn’t light at the first few tries, wait five minutes to allow the gas to clear.

Almost 10,000 people in 2007 went to the country’s emergency rooms for burns sustained from using grills, according to a National Fire Prevention Association report.

Neighbors last Tuesday saw smoke coming from a home in Mukilteo’s Elliot Pointe community and called for help. A column of black smoke was seen rising above the neighborhood that afternoon as firefighters worked to get the fire under control.

Investigators later found the fire started in a yard-waste bin with discarded barbecue charcoal. Flames spread up the southeast corner of the house and onto the roof of the attached garage.

Katya Yefimova: 425-339-3452, kyefimova@heraldnet.com.

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