ST. GEORGE – The smell of burnt food was in the air as multiple fire engines sat in front of an apartment complex on 600 South Thursday afternoon.
Around 3 p.m., firefighters responded to a report of smoke coming from a ground-floor apartment at the Valley View Apartments across the street from Legend Solar Stadium.
The firefighters found the inside to be filled with smoke as well, and soon discovered the cause.
“We located a large pot on the stove with some food that have been cooking that had boiled dry,” St. George Fire Chief Robert Stoker said.
No one was home at the time of incident, leaving the cooking food unattended. This ultimately created the large amount of smoke that triggered the firefighters’ arrival. The smoke did not reach into neighboring apartments.
There was quite a bit of smoke damage, Stoker said, particularly to the stove and cabinets in the kitchen.
When cooking food is left unattended on a stove, like in a pot full of boiling water, the water can end up boiling away and leaving the food inside to smolder and possibly ignite. This can create a lot of smoke, as well as a rather putrid smell, Stoker said.
Wind cutting through the area helped push the smell along. When it managed to catch the notice of someone’s hapless nostrils, it smelled somewhat similar to burnt hot dogs.
Responding to emergency calls triggered by unattended cooking food isn’t unusual for the Fire Department.
“We do get quite a few of these throughout the year,” Stoker said.
He estimated that around 80 percent of these type of calls end with varying degrees of smoke damage and are usually caught before a fire ignites. Other times have resulted in catastrophic structure fires.
“If you’re leaving food on the stove, it’s a good idea to leave somebody home to watch it, or else it can boil dry and ignite,” he said. “We’ve had pans burn completely through, so it can cause some extensive damage if left unattended for any amount of time.”
The Fire Department blocked off a portion of 600 South between 700 East and 800 East while responding to the incident for around 45 minutes. St. George Police officers were also on scene during that time.
A similar incident occurred in a nearby home in the area of 700 South and 700 East in July 2016. The homeowner had left a pot of chicken on the stove and forgot about it when he left for work.
A smoke detector attached to a security alarm notified the Fire Department and firefighters arrived on scene before any fire ignited.
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