A pan left alone on the kitchen stove of a Rochester Hills townhouse caused a fire that spread fast through the home and caused smoke damage to three other homes nearby, according to the leader of the city's fire department.
No one was injured in the Friday night blaze, which was the second cooking-related fire on Mercer Court in the past three years, Fire Chief Ron Crowell said.
Friday's fire was reported around 6:30 p.m.; Mercer Court is south of Avon Road and west of Rochester Road, behind Home Depot. Both the Rochester Hills and Rochester fire departments responded to the scene.
According to Crowell, the first firefighters arrived on the scene to see heavy smoke and flames coming from the back of the townhouse.
Crowell said firefighters were able to get the fire under control in about 30 minutes.
"The occupant reported he was cooking on the stove and the next thing he knew, the kitchen was on fire," Crowell said. That occupant was able to get out of the townhouse safety; there were no other injuries reported.
Crowell said a pan left on the stove unattended caused the fire. It "quickly spread through the kitchen and up the back of the townhouse," he said. Three other townhouses in the building also received minor smoke damage.
Witness Bob Krizmanich told Rochester Patch he watched as a woman, who he said he believed was one of the townhouse residents, arrived on the scene and became overcome by emotion. "Heart-breaking," Krizmanich said.
Crowell said a previous kitchen fire on the street destroyed three townhouses and that all firefighters who were on the scene Friday night "are commended for such an outstanding job preventing the fire from spreading."
According to the National Fire Protection Association, cooking fires caused almost 44 percent of all home fires and 420 deaths in the United States in 2010, Crowell said. He offered these suggestions for fire safety while you are cooking:
- Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, broiling or grilling food. If you leave the kitchen for even a short time, turn off the stove.
- If you are simmering, baking, roasting or boiling food, check it regularly, remain in the home while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you that you’re cooking.
For more information on fire safety within your home you can contact the Rochester Hills Fire Department at 248-656-4720 and/or visit the upcoming Fire Prevention Open House on Oct. 14, which coincides with Fire Prevention Week.