Outdoor Grilling Fire Safety

Outdoor grill fire July 2018

May and July are the peak months for outdoor grill fires. A recent grilling fire in Seattle provides another reminder to the potential fire hazard associated with outdoor grilling.

Fortunately, there are some simple steps to take to ensure safe outdoor grilling this summer.

Setting up:

  • Barbecue grills are designed for outdoor use only. Never barbecue in an enclosed area – dangerous carbon monoxide (CO) can accumulate and be deadly. If you suspect CO poisoning, call 911.
  • Set-up your grill in an open area at least 10 feet away from buildings, overhead combustible surfaces, dry leaves and brush.
  • Make sure all of the grilling parts are firmly in place and the grill is on a flat surface.
  • The Seattle Fire Department recommends the use of one-pound propane cylinders as the least hazardous fuel source for outdoor grills.
  • For propane grills, make sure the hose connection is tight and check the hoses for leaks.

During use:

  • Never leave grills unattended while cooking.
  • Keep a three-foot zone around the grill where children and pets aren’t allowed.

    Keep a three-foot zone around the grill  where children are not allowed.

  • Do not leave starter fluid, lighters or matches within the reach of children.
  • Use the proper tools. Long handled barbecue utensils and flame retardant mitts will prevent burns from heat and flame.
  • For charcoal grills, avoid adding lighter fluid after the coals are lit.

Cleaning up:

  • For propane grills, turn the grill and fuel cylinder off immediately after grilling.
  • For charcoal grills, allow coals to cool for 48 hours before disposing. If you are not able to wait, douse coals with plenty of water, and stir them to ensure that the fire is out. Never place coals in plastic, paper or wooden containers; place in a metal container with a tight-fitting lid.

The use of barbecues in single-family homes, apartments and condominiums is not regulated by current Washington State law. However, apartment building owners and condominium associations, through lease agreements and owner’s association rules, may still prohibit or restrict use of barbecues.

Outdoor grilling safety tips

Dry Weather Fire Safety

Since the start of July, the Seattle Fire Department has responded to over 80 dry weather-related fires involving bark, dry grass and shrubs. With the weather expected to stay warm and dry in the coming weeks,  we are likely to see an increase in dry weather-related fires.

Help reduce the chance of such outdoor fires by practicing these tips:

  • Carelessly discarded cigarettes and other smoking materials can easily start a fire in dry conditions. Douse smoking materials in water before tossing out. Make sure proper cigarette disposal canisters are available in areas where smoking is allowed.
  • Remove long grass, weeds or anything that can burn from around buildings. This includes limbs that touch buildings or hang near the roof.
  • Remove dead plants or bushes as soon as possible.
  • Clear roof and gutters of needles and leaves.

Seattle Firefighters Combat Barge Fire

SEATTLE- On June 26, 2018, at 8:15 p.m., multiple reports of a large black column of smoke from the 600 block of S Myrtle St. were received at the Fire Alarm Center. A Marine Fire response was immediately initiated by the Fire Alarm Dispatcher.                                                                                   

Upon arrival fire crews discovered a large barge with over 30 feet of vertical storage containing recycled metals including crushed automobiles with a large volume of fire engulfing a major portion of the cargo. As crews secured water supply lines and began suppression efforts it became apparent the incident was evolving into a Hazardous Materials event in addition to the fire suppression challenge. Explosions were heard as these fuels and compressed propane began to ignite.

Land-based suppression efforts were effective in retarding the fire’s growth until the arrival of the Fire Boat. With the combined land and water-based fire attacks the blaze was brought under control in relatively short order.

Once the fire was under control, crane operators from the affected facility were instrumental in removing the debris to allow firefighters to extinguish hard to reach hot spots, an effort that continued for another five hours, but was necessary to ensure a complete extinguishment effort.

As the event unfolded other agencies were able to assist with environmental protection. The Coast Guard, EPA and SDOT enacted a plan to deploy boom protection for potential spill containment while also evaluating street drain impacts. Additionally, King County Airport provided a Crash Truck to increase the foam resources which was pivotal to address the hazards posed by the various types of burning material.

Two firefighters suffered minor injuries from the intense labor effort.

Fire Investigators determined the cause to be accidental in nature and provided an initial damage estimate of $1,000,000.

Capt. S. Stephenson

South Park Residential Fires

SEATTLE – Two fires occurred in the South Park neighborhood on May 2, 2018.

The first fire was reported at 1:50 a.m. in an abandoned house in the 1200 block of South Cloverdale Street. Fire crews quickly extinguished the fire that had spread from the main floor to the attic. No injuries were reported. Fire investigators determined that the fire was accidental with an estimated damage of $50,000.


The second fire was reported at 3:32 a.m. in the 9000 block of 7 Avenue South. Fire dispatchers received multiple calls for a reported kitchen fire in a two-story single family residence. The first arriving company reported a “well involved” house fire with the fire showing on floors one and two with extension into the attic. There were no reported injuries. The American Red Cross was notified for two occupants.

The cause of the fire was undetermined with an estimated loss of $400,000.




By Lt. Harold Webb PIO

2-Alarm South Lake Union Fire

SEATTLE – On April 18 at 2:58 p.m., firefighters were dispatched to the 2100 block of Dexter Ave N. for reports of a fire in an two-story home with a basement.

Engine 5 arrived first on scene and found heavy dark smoke billowing from the rear of the structure. Fire attack was initiated into the basement and the 1st floor.

During the initial attack the fire conditions worsened causing firefighters to tactically withdraw from the structure. A 2-11 was called to ensure that enough staffing and equipment were in place to mitigate the evolving situation. Fire streams were then applied from outside until conditions improved enough to allow the interior attack to resume. The fire was quickly brought under control upon re-entry.  Crews had most of the fire under control within 50 minutes. The overhaul included opening walls and exterior siding between the basement and first floor to put out hot spots. Seattle City Light also responded to shut off power to the building.

Fire investigators ruled the fire as accidental, and determined it was caused by an electrical wiring issue. Estimated loss is $320,000.

Capt. Shata Stephenson