Gas grill fire damages North Royalton home, problems all too common

NORTH ROYALTON, Ohio - The backside of a North Royalton home -- its roof and attic -- were badly damaged from a gas grill fire. Investigators said the blaze started in the grill and it's an all too common problem.

The National Fire Data Center estimates grill fires at homes cause $37 million in property loss each year, 10 people are killed and an estimated 100 others injured while trying to cook dinner.

After starting the grill in North Royalton, the family member walked away to cut the grass. The individual heard a hissing sound possibly from some type of gas leak. There was so much heat the grill caught fire and that spread to the home and made its way into the attic.

ESPN anchor Hannah Storm knows all too well the dangers of grilling. She was grilling at her home in December 2012 when her propane grill exploded. It left her with first and second degree burns all over her body. She lit the grill and when she returned 10 minutes later, the wind killed the fire.

"After I turned the gas off, I relit the flame and it was a wall of fire, huge explosion. So much force that I blew the doors of the grill completely off."

The flames singed the anchor's eyebrows, eyelashes, and most of her hair. She suffered burns to her neck, face and her hand.

The lesson: propane gas is heavier than air. It pooled under the grill in the cold December weather, and when she relit the grill that gas caused an explosion. If your grill goes out, wait at least 15 minutes before relighting it.

You also need to check the tubes on a grill frequently. They are called Venturi tubes. Insects, spiders and food drippings tend to accumulate in the tiny crevices. Clear any blockage with a pipe cleaner or wire. There are even special products on the market that help make clearing these tubes easier, such as a Spider brush.

Also, check the grill's hoses for cracking, brittleness, holes and leaks, as leaks are also common.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission said you can check for one by opening the gas supply valve fully and applying a soapy solution (one part water, one part liquid detergent) with a brush at all the connection points. If you see bubbles, there is a leak. Turn off the gas and fix the connection. If that doesn't work, take your tank to a repair person.

Finally, keep a fire extinguisher handy so you can put out a fire quickly before it damages your property or causes injury to you.

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