Grease fire causes $100,000 damage to home in the valley

Posted: Tuesday, March 20, 2001

A family was displaced from its Rosedale Street home today after an early morning fire. No one was hurt, but a cat died in the blaze.

The cause of the fire was french fry grease that ignited after it was left unattended for about 10 minutes. A teen-age girl, planning to cook fries, put a stove burner on high under a pan of cooking grease. Then she left the area. The grease combusted and set fire to cabinets, said Chief Max Mielke of the Glacier Fire Station.

After discovering the fire, the teen-ager woke up the three other people in the residence and they exited safely. Firefighters responded at 4:24 a.m.

Two engines, a rescue truck, an ambulance and 30 volunteers battled the fire for about two hours. When they arrived, they saw heavy smoke from the second story of the house and flames through windows on the back. An entry team was sent in, and was able to contain the fire mainly in the kitchen, although smoke and heat rampaged elsewhere, including throughout the second floor, Mielke said.

The house is not habitable, said incident commander Capt. Jerry Godkin.

"There is an amazing amount of heat and heavy black smoke damage. The Sheetrock did its job and contained the heat, so there is very little charring of any wood. But the radiant heat dropped from the ceiling level and charred walls about three feet down in the living room and surrounding hallways."

No heat or fire got into the attic.

The residents had purchased the house recently, Godkin said.

Mielke estimated about $50,000 damage to the structure and $50,000 to its contents.

Mielke had this tip for residents. "If you have a grease fire, never spray water on it because that will spread the grease and spread the fire. Cover it, or smother it with a class B fire extinguisher," he said.

Fire Marshal Randy Waters was trying to find housing for the family since they have no relatives in town. The names of the family members were not released.

Ann Chandonnet can be reached at

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