Deep-frying a turkey may be an appealing way to cook the main Thanksgiving item, but local fire officials want to make sure that people who prepare their birds that way do it safely.
"It's a hot topic," said Deputy Fire Chief Bruce Faust, with D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services. He said he expects that there will be at least one turkey-fryer fire in the D.C. area this year.
Chris Clime, a chef with Passion Food Hospitality, said the worst cooking accident that he has heard of involved a former co-worker and his brother attempting to deep-fry a turkey for Thanksgiving in a Fairfax County garage.
The brothers overfilled the oil in the pot, put the burner on high and left. When they returned, the pot had caught fire. The turkey hadn't even been placed into the pot yet.
"With flames now over 5 feet tall, they panicked," Clime told The Washington Examiner. "Instead of turning [off] one of the tanks that was connected to the burner, they turned on the other tank, and it caught fire and exploded ... knocking down the pot of flaming oil and causing the other propane tank to explode."
To safely fry a turkey, D.C.-area fire officials urge people to not overfill pots with oil, make sure the turkey is completely thawed before it is placed in the fryer, use fryers away from combustible materials, and keep fire extinguishers and other safety materials nearby.
"People just need to be prepared," said Dan Schmidt, a spokesman for the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department.
Each year, an estimated 2,000 Thanksgiving Day fires in residential buildings are reported in the United States, according to a report from the U.S. Fire Administration published in 2010. The average number of reported residential building fires on the holiday is nearly double the number of these types of fires on other days.
During the holidays, there is the possibility of fires resulting from people cooking while distracted, officials said. People should not leave cooking unattended, should not wear loose clothing near cooking apparatuses and should keep children away from food that is cooking.
"The stove area is not a play area," said Tom Olshanski, a spokesman for the U.S. Fire Administration.