“This statistic does not lie” – With the prevalence of cooking fires, fire officials want you to know prevention

GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. -- It's something fire officials say not to take lightly. Statistics show cooking fires are the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries in the United States. Fire officials want adults and kids old enough to cook to understand prevention.

"The last structure fire we ran here in Guntersville was a cooking-related fire," said Guntersville Fire Marshal Buddy Pettry. "This is something we do see often, and so do a lot of fire departments. This statistic does not lie."

According to the National Fire Protection Association, cooking fires are the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries. Between 2010 and 2014, cooking fires caused an average of 480 deaths per year, over 5,000 injuries and $1.1 billion in direct property damage.

Earlier this month fire officials say unattended cooking caused an apartment fire in Huntsville. A woman was injured trying to escape.

Pettry says these fires shouldn't be taken lightly. "It's really a big deal, especially right now as the children are getting out of school, you're going to have a lot of kids home by themselves, so parents really need to go over with their kids what to do not to cause these fires and what to do in the event that a fire does happen," Pettry said.

Always keep a correctly fitted lid and an oven mitt handy while you're cooking. If there's a fire, put the lid over the pan, turn off the burner, and leave the house. Call 911, don't move the pan, and don't pour water on it. For an oven fire, close and turn off the oven. Always call 911 and leave the home.

Fire officials say our phones and devices can make us sidetracked and distracted while cooking, so it's best to put those down. Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, broiling, or grilling. If you are doing other cooking, check it regularly. Don't leave the house when you have the oven or stove in use.