National News

Fire officials warn against leaving grills unattended while cooking

Posted May 14, 2018 5:35 p.m. EDT

— Gwinnett County firefighters are urging people to use caution when firing up the grill after a devastating house fire on Mother's Day.

The fire started when the homeowner walked away from a charcoal grill while cooking.

"When he heard his wife yell that the fire was getting larger, he returned to find the back of the home on fire," said Justin Wilson.

Justin Wilson with Gwinnett Count Fire and Emergency Services says they recommend grills be on solid, stable ground like concrete. But he knows that's not always possible.

"We do encourage though that anybody that's cooking on it not to leave it unattended and move it out to where it's away from the home," said Wilson.

If you live an an apartment, the law is clear. State ordinance prohibits grilling within 10 feet. Homeowners are allowed to grill whatever they like on their property. But that doesn't make it safe.

"If you do choose to have it on the deck, having it at the further point away from the home," said Wilson.

The grill that started this fire was under the family's back deck. Although it was a charcoal grill, Wilson says gas grills are just as dangerous.

"With the gas we want to make sure that all connections have been tested. You can use soapy water and spray it on all the connections before you use it for the first time to make sure all those connections are still good and you're not leaking any natural gas or liquid propane," said Wilson.

It is also that time of year when you need to check your deck, according to officials. The North American Deck and Railing Association says about half of all decks needs to be replaced.

In order to make sure your deck is still good, professionals say you should look for split or decaying wood, rusted nails and screws, and any loose materials.