Crime & Courts

Pot left on stove causes blaze at Columbia fire station

Fire departments always warn you not to leave a pot on a hot stove.

But one Columbia fire station left a pot on its own stove.

Fire Chief Aubrey Jenkins said Tuesday he has not decided whether to discipline the firefighter who left an unattended pot of grease on a stove Monday night at department’s headquarters, causing $20,000 worth of damage.

“I’m sure he’s embarrassed and won’t do it again,” said Jenkins, who didn’t identify the firefighter.

Jenkins said the fire illustrates the value of a sprinkler system, without which he said the fire would almost certainly have done hundreds of thousands of dollars of damage.

As it was, about $20,000 worth of smoke and water damage was done in the kitchen at Station 1, at 1800 Laurel St., before the sprinklers kicked in, keeping the blaze contained until firefighters arrived on the scene.

All firefighters and trucks at the station were away, responding to alarms caused by a sudden thunderstorm passing through the area, Jenkins said.

In his haste to help others, the firefighter left the station without turning the stove off, Jenkins said.

Jenkins said he knows some might criticize the department for the incident, but it shows that firefighters are human, too, and that everyone must take care not make careless mistakes.

“A fire can happen anywhere, and a fire station is not immune,” he said.

The fire department was open about the incident, putting out a news release Monday night, several hours after the fire was put out.

“We report on everything else,” Jenkins said, “so we are honest when we make mistakes.”

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