THANKSGIVING SAFETY: Common Mistakes Preparing Deep-Fried Turkey - KWES NewsWest 9 / Midland, Odessa, Big Spring, TX: newswest9.com |

THANKSGIVING SAFETY: Common Mistakes Preparing Deep-Fried Turkey Cause Flash Fires

MIDLAND-ODESSA, TX (KWES) -

One of this year's hottest Thanksgiving dishes can easily get too hot and potentially turn deadly, firefighters said.

Deep-fried turkey has quickly become a favorite throughout West Texas, according to the Midland Fire Department, but often leads to explosive grease fires when cooking conditions "are off, even [by] a little."

"These fires will erupt very, very rapidly and violently," said Midland Fire Marshal David Hickman. "It's a tasty way to prepare bird. However, it can be very dangerous."

Standard turkey fryers consist of a 30-quart pot and require nearly three gallons of oil heated to a boiling point of approximately 350 degrees.

Water, which boils at a significantly lower temperature, expands and turns to steam within seconds of contact with the hot frying oil. Any ice or moisture in a frozen turkey will immediately change from a liquid to a gas upon being immersed in the pot. The expanding water particles then force droplets of oil out of the deep fryer.

"This fountain creates a fine mist of the very hot oil," a Physics Stack Exchange user explained. "This greatly increased surface area coupled with the already hot oil causes it to ignite, which then ignites surrounding droplets until the entire batch of oil that was displaced from the pot is a huge fireball."

The flash fires can reach heights of more than 20 feet, Hickman said.

According to Jimmy Ellis, Fire Chief for the West Odessa Volunteer Fire Department, two "simple mistakes" lead to nearly all deep-fried turkey fires: using too much oil and trying to fry an unthawed bird.

"People just need to read the directions on the fryer sets," he said. "A frozen turkey usually needs to thaw for at least 24 hours."

Ellis and a group of West Odessa volunteer firefighters joined NewsWest 9 to demonstrate how a partially thawed, 5-pound turkey ignited within seconds of being dropped in five gallons of 350-degree peanut oil.

He instructed his men to all wear head-to-toe protective gear and carry 50-pound oxygen tanks during the demonstration.

"This is what they have on when they go into burning homes," Ellis explained. "That's how bad these [deep-fried turkey] fires can get."

They also demonstrated to NewsWest 9 how the extinguished grease fire immediately reignited when a splash of bottled water was thrown over the pot.

Fire officials advised against deep frying indoors, attempting to put out grease fires with water and consuming alcohol while preparing Thanksgiving dinner.

Ellis said he plans to avoid accidentally sparking a turkey fire by staying out of the kitchen Thursday and having his wife cook. Hickman, meanwhile, said his family will purchase a pre-cooked turkey and smoke it with mesquite flavoring. 

"Let's all try to have a safe Thanksgiving," he said. "Remember to keep kids away from [deep fryers] and anything else that's flammable."

  • NewsMore>>

  • Gunman in Trader Joe's standoff was feuding with grandmother

    Gunman in Trader Joe's standoff was feuding with grandmother

    Sunday, July 22 2018 8:49 AM EDT2018-07-22 12:49:27 GMT
    Monday, July 23 2018 1:25 AM EDT2018-07-23 05:25:44 GMT
    (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes). Los Angeles Police SWAT officers escort a group of people who were held for their safety by police across businesses surrounding a Trader Joe's supermarket, after a gunman held dozens of people hostage inside the store bef...(AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes). Los Angeles Police SWAT officers escort a group of people who were held for their safety by police across businesses surrounding a Trader Joe's supermarket, after a gunman held dozens of people hostage inside the store bef...

    Police say they're trying to determine what prompted a man to shoot his grandmother and then run into a busy Los Angeles supermarket and hold dozens of people hostage for hours.

    Police say they're trying to determine what prompted a man to shoot his grandmother and then run into a busy Los Angeles supermarket and hold dozens of people hostage for hours.

  • UPDATE: Barricaded suspect in custody, scene being cleared

    UPDATE: Barricaded suspect in custody, scene being cleared

    Scene of the barricaded subject situation (Source: KWES)Scene of the barricaded subject situation (Source: KWES)

    UPDATE: Officials tell us that the barricaded subject is now in custody. 

    UPDATE: Officials tell us that the barricaded subject is now in custody. 

  • Survivor recounts boat accident that killed 9 family members

    Survivor recounts boat accident that killed 9 family members

    Saturday, July 21 2018 12:18 AM EDT2018-07-21 04:18:54 GMT
    Sunday, July 22 2018 7:18 PM EDT2018-07-22 23:18:49 GMT
    (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel). People pray outside Ride the Ducks, an amphibious tour operator involved in a boating accident on Table Rock Lake, Friday, July 20, 2018 in Branson, Mo.(AP Photo/Charlie Riedel). People pray outside Ride the Ducks, an amphibious tour operator involved in a boating accident on Table Rock Lake, Friday, July 20, 2018 in Branson, Mo.

    More than half of the 17 people killed when a tourist boat sank on a Branson lake were members of the same Indiana family, and they likely wouldn't have been on the ill-fated trip but for a ticket mix-up.

    More than half of the 17 people killed when a tourist boat sank on a Branson lake were members of the same Indiana family, and they likely wouldn't have been on the ill-fated trip but for a ticket mix-up.

Powered by Frankly