The fall ushers in the season of home-cooked meals with family — which means more time in the kitchen. And that’s the most vulnerable place in the house to fire.

“Nationally, cooking is the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries, with unattended cooking being the leading cause of fires in the kitchen,” said Assistant Chief Deputy Claire McGrew of the Oregon State Fire Marshal’s Office. “In Oregon, cooking was the leading known cause of residential structure fires over the past five years, through 2019.”

According to data collected from the Oregon fire service for the National Fire Reporting System, home fires caused 29 deaths in Oregon in 2019, and fire agencies in Oregon responded to 2,790 home fires; and cooking was the leading known cause of residential structure fires over the past five years, causing an average of 19 percent of Oregon’s total residential structure fires and six deaths.

Cooking fire safety tips include:

• Keep an eye on what you’re cooking; don’t leave cooking unattended.

• Keep your cooking areas clean and clear of combustibles (potholders, food packaging, towels, etc.), and wipe up surface spills.

• Create three-foot kid- and-pet-free zone around stove.

• Older children should only cook with permission and under the supervision of an adult.

• Have a lid or cookie sheet within reach while cooking (to smother flames) in case of a fire.

If a cooking fire does start:

• Put a lid on it! Slide a lid over the pan (from the side) and then turn off the burner.

• Don’t move the pan until the fire is completely extinguished and cooled, and don’t try to transfer the pan to the sink.

If you cannot quickly extinguish the fire:

• Get yourself and your family safely out of the house.

• If you can, close doors as you are escaping, to help contain the fire.

• Call 911 from a safe place (outside).

“This year has been a challenging one for Oregonians,” said State Fire Marshal Mariana Ruiz-Temple. “As we continue to face the challenges of COVID-19 and now the impacts of the Oregon fire season, it demonstrates the resilient spirit of Oregonians. Fire Prevention Month is a good reminder, as we continue to be in our homes and closed settings, to bring fire safe practices into the home, which will continue to keep you and your families safe from the dangers of fire.”