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Cooking turkey in smoker on deck leads to P.G. fire

- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 22, 2012

It was a propane-fueled smoker, not the much derided deep fryer, that turned Thanksgiving dinner into a tragedy for a Laurel family, authorities said.

The two-story house caught fire Wednesday night as residents were cooking a turkey in a smoker on the home's rear deck, said Prince George's County Fire and EMS Department spokesman Mark Brady.

Each year, fire departments around the nation issue tips on the prevention of cooking fires particularly those sparked by deep fryers used to cook the birds to a golden crisp. However, fire investigators believe that in this case the smoker was placed too close to combustibles, possibly vinyl siding or the wooden deck, which ignited from the heat or embers from the smoker.

The propane tank attached to the smoker also caught on fire and exploded, quickly upping the severity of the blaze, said City of Laurel spokesman Pete Piringer.

Firefighters were called to the home, in Laurel's historic district, around 10:30 p.m. Wednesday.

The three adults at the home, located in the 500 block of Prince George's Street, escaped without injury.

The fire caused damage potentially in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, Mr. Piringer said. The residents were displaced from their home.

Approximately 45 firefighters from Prince George's, Anne Arundel and Howard counties responded to the blaze.

One firefighter received minor injuries at the scene, Mr. Piringer said.

The National Fire Protection Association said that cooking-related fires accounted for nearly 44 percent of the 156,400 home fires reported in the United States in 2010 with Thanksgiving as the leading day for such fires. With 1,370 fires reported on Thanksgiving in 2010, the cooking-centered holiday had three times as many cooking fires as an average day.

In the District, the D.C. Fire Fighters Association reported two cooking fires on Thursday morning. One occurred in the 3400 block of 25th Street Southeast and another in the 4000 block of Cathedral Avenue Northwest. Both fires were limited to the ovens in which they started and no injuries were reported.

On Wednesday morning, one man was killed in a house fire in the District that authorities believe may have started with a cooking mishap.

The fatal fire was reported Wednesday morning in the 300 block of Webster Street Northwest. A D.C. Fire Department spokesman said the man's body was found underneath furniture in the house.

"Neighbors said they had spoken to him today and he had indicated to them that he was going in to fix a turkey and that was the last anyone saw him," Deputy Fire Chief Edward Pearson told ABC 7.

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