The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

November 27, 2009

Turkey fryer sparks fire in Hummels Wharf

By Diane Petryk

HUMMELS WHARF — Twenty people were just about to sit down to Thanksgiving dinner at the Rivera residence early Thursday evening when four fire trucks crashed the party.

The garage area of the home of Robin Welch and Carlos Rivera at 99 Creek Road was ablaze when they rushed in.

It was about 5 p.m. Rivera had been cooking one turkey upstairs in the regular oven and one in the garage by a propane-fueled deep fat fryer method.

He said he checked on the turkey in the garage, and everything was fine, and he went back upstairs into the kitchen, which was directly above the garage.

“It wasn’t 30 seconds later,” he said, “I saw smoke coming up by the window.”

Hummels Wharf Fire Chief Jeff Buckley said the garage was fully involved when they arrived, with flames coming out of both garage doors.

Selinsgrove and Shamokin Dam fire trucks also responded as well as a tanker truck from Kreamer. Hummels Wharf EMT crews also arrived on the scene.

The Snyder County Red Cross came to assist.

Buckley said firefighters used 250 gallons of compressed air foam to put out the fire. No one was injured, but one firefighter had a hot ember go down his neck. “It could have been a really major fire,” he said. “But we got here fast.”

Welch said the upstairs was damaged by smoke, “but that’s all, thank God.”

Her Thanksgiving plans were less fortunate.

Although there were hams and the other turkey upstairs, it was a blackened mess. Her daughter and sisters and their children all stood outside, not knowing when they would get to eat. Welch looked defeated.

She said one of the female EMTs looked down into the kettle after the fire was out.

“ ‘At least your turkey’s done,’ she said. I had to laugh,” Welch said.

Hummels Wharf Deputy Chief John Grove said the grease virtually exploded outward, igniting the ceiling and walls of the garage and anything else that would burn.

Consensus was that that type of cooking must be done outside under a watchful eye.

Welch was asked if her husband read the directions on the apparatus.

“He’s a man,” she said.