How to Avoid Labor Day and Summer Barbecue Fires

Barbecue grills are a big part of summer and especially the end of summer over Labor Day weekend. With a barbecue or charcoal grill, food is cooked over a flame. Where there is fire, there is an inherent danger. In this week’s video from 9News, Steve explains how a common mistake can have tragic results.

Occasionally during the summer barbecue, lighter fluid erupts in the hands of the chef. This happens when the fuel is sprayed onto a barbecue or charcoal fire, the flames ignite the liquid and travel up to the bottle. As the squeeze bottle is released, the flame is sucked inside, along with oxygen. The chef thinks they are ok, because the flame is no longer visible, but the flame, along with the fuel and oxygen create the perfect environment and explode.

Firefighters warn of this danger using lighter fluid and of the dangers with flammable gases. Some are lighter than air and are flammable, like methane or hydrogen. Depending on conditions, these gases can ignite in a fire. A popular demonstration used by firefighters is the Methane Mamba.

Steve uses a classroom demonstration with a Pringles can, hydrogen gas and a lighter. When the flame burns down into the can, an explosion is the release of perfect conditions for a release of energy inside the can. This is exactly what happens when lighter fluid explodes during a summer cookout.

When cooking outside, please be extremely careful when using lighter fluid around an open flame. If the flame is sucked into the bottle, get away from it quickly. The fire did not go out, and is instead burning the fuel inside the bottle.

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