Sprinkler Extinguishes Fire in Normal Apartment

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NORMAL - An automatic sprinkler system extinguished a small fire that started when cooking oil ignited on a stove top Tuesday night at an apartment on Trader's Circle, the Normal Fire Department said today.

Firefighters responded to the call at 8:31 p.m. at College Station Apartments. The crew reported light smoke in the apartment and that the sprinkler system had activated. Firefighters ventilated the remaining smoke from the apartment and assisted with protecting the building from further water damage by using tarps.

Firefighters learned oil was being heated in a pan on the stove top. After it ignited, the resident attempted to smother the fire with a towel that also caught fire. The pan was put in the sink and flushed with water, but that only intensified the flames, said NPD. At that point, the resident left the apartment and shortly after that, the automatic sprinkler system activated and doused the flames.

Fire damage was minimal to the stove top and range hood. The apartment and the apartment below sustained water damage. There were no injuries.

"This is a very lucky situation for the resident. The act of putting water on a grease fire could have had catastrophic consequences for them," said NFD Public Education Officer Matt Swaney, adding, "If you have a fire on the stove top, never attempt to use water to put out the fire. The water turns to steam and rapidly expands causing a massive fireball. The fact that the resident escaped without severe burn injuries is truly remarkable."

The fire sprinkler system was able to contain the fire only because it continually pours large amounts of water and is able to overcome the rapid expansion of the steam, said Swaney.

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