A South Frontenac family is safe and relieved that they only lost their kitchen this week in a fire that could have been much worse. Their message to the community: a fire extinguisher in your kitchen could save your home and family, and parents should remind their kids that not everything they see on TikTok is a great idea.
In a post to Facebook on Monday, Jul. 12, 2021, the concerned mother shared a photo of her fire-damaged kitchen with a warning to other parents, “Calling all mums and dads with teens watching TikTok! There are cooking videos where they are frying penne pasta! Heat oil first then deep fry pasta! It didn’t take long and this is what happened to our kitchen today! I’m sharing in the hope that you can warn your kids of the dangers of watching these videos that seem so delicious and seemingly easy to make.”
In a phone call, the father in the family expressed a sense of responsibility to share the story with other families, “Maybe it will make them think about putting a fire extinguisher in their kitchen. Because it’s something that I never thought about: I never had one in my kitchen as a child.”
“We had one in our camper van and, actually, my daughter remembered it, and that’s what saved the house,” he expressed.
The thirteen-year-old had seen a viral video on TikTok that made frying up pasta look like a fun and easy treat. She got distracted doing something else, and when she looked back the pan was aflame. Luckily, said the father, “She had the reflex to switch the oven off.”
“It was a very scary moment for our family, and we’re just happy my neighbour was able to put [the fire] down,” he said, “I wasn’t home at the time.”
That neighbour was just packing up his family to leave when he got called over to help, “And I just ran over immediately. And when I got there, the kids were all out of the house at the end of the driveway and they had the dog with them. There was already smoke coming out all the windows. And then when I went in the house and the stove was on fire, the hood above it and spices, the cabinets all around it were all burning.”
He saw the burning pan and jug of oil, and brought them out and put them on the front lawn. “I went back in and, since it was an oil fire, I couldn’t put it out with water. I tried putting it out with a towel, but I wasn’t able to do that.”
When he ran back out to make a 911 call, the children remembered the fire extinguisher in the camper and brought it to him.
“On that third time, I was able to put down the fire,” the neighbour said.
The Facebook post was met mostly with support, well wishes, and thanks for the information about the viral TikTok fad. Unfortunately, as too often seems to be the case, there were online trolls who made snide and hurtful remarks that caused pain for the family — and especially the young person involved. This is why the family has chosen to remain anonymous for this article.
The father relayed that his child was traumatized and has deep regret about what happened, and that the comments were not helpful. The 13- and 15-year-old children are “both great cooks,” he said, and this incident has made the younger child swear off cooking. He also expressed that the gut instinct to put water on a fire is entirely common — even people who know not to put water on an oil or grease fire have done it accidentally in moments of panic.
“It’s too bad,” he said, as they are both talented and enjoy cooking. “They don’t need to hear nasty comments from nasty people; it could have happened to anybody, and we were just sharing the story to help people.”
Of the negativity, their neighbour said, “You know, I was a little disappointed in humanity about that, as well. Talk about kicking the family when they’re down. It was a very traumatic thing. When you hear [that in] another four or five minutes,they could have lost their home, that’s pretty devastating. Right?”
“And to be honest,” he continued, “I’m an individual that’s rethinking my strategy inside my own home. And I’m embarrassed to say this, but I don’t have a fire extinguisher. I’m not just saying it, I’m definitely gonna act on it and buy one.”
The father of the family, who are now rebuilding their kitchen and hoping their traumatic experience can act as a cautionary tale for others, concluded his thoughts on the matter with a take-home message for just about anyone.
“I think everyone should have a fire extinguisher in their kitchen; that is the biggest thing that we’ve realized,” he said.