Monday, January 9, 2012

Grease Ignites Johnson Court Fire

By Lisa E. Crowley
BROCKTON—A blaze at a Johnson Court three-story apartment house has left more than a dozen people without a home after firefighters knocked out a fire that began on the third floor.
“The third floor and the roof were heavily involved,” said Fire Chief Richard Francis Monday morning.
He said he believed 14 people living in the building are now looking for a place to stay.
Francis said the Friday night fire, which began at about 9:17 p.m, is believed to have started when a man on the third floor made French fires in a pan full of grease.
Francis said the man told fire officials he made the French fries and believed he had turned off the pan on the stove when he went to eat them.
However, his snack was interrupted when the kitchen filled with smoke and a roaring fire began to spread through the top floor of the house at 10 Johnson Court.
Francis said one occupant was transported to an area hospital and suffered smoke inhalation. He said she is believed to be fine.
The second and first floors were evacuated and otherwise no one was hurt.
“Anytime you can contain the fire to the house or floor where the fire is, you’ve done a good job,” Francis said.
He said battling the fire was made difficult because of the narrow street and the electrical wires that criss-cross the road from house-to-house on the tightly packed street that has a handful of other high occupancy three-story apartment houses.
“We had a lot to contend with,” Francis said.
The American Red Cross is helping individuals and families who may have been displaced by the blaze.
He said part of the roof caved into the third floor and the first and second floors have suffered extensive water damage.
Francis said the building has been deemed uninhabitable at this time, and residents who receive a letter from the Fire Department indicating the building has been ruled as unlivable, may be able to seek help through the Brockton Housing Authority.
For those in the future who might be cooking French fries in a pan on a stove full of hot grease, if there is a fire the last thing to do is throw water on it.
"If you have a grease fire do NOT throw water on it," Francis said. "When you have hot grease and you throw water on it, all it does is splatter and everything around it--curtains, napkins, anything--can catch fire," he said.
The best way to put out a grease fire is to cover it and smother the flames. If the fire is still contained in a pan, Francis said use a pot cover to smother it. If it has spread, use an extinguisher rated for grease fires.
He said baking soda or flour might help smother it, but the best thing to do before trying to fight the fire is call the Fire Department.
"Call us first," Francis said.

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