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Oklahoma City firefighters launch safe cooking campaign

(OKLAHOMA CITY) Children cooking french fries have started fires that destroyed two Oklahoma City homes in a week and damaged a third, prompting firefighters to launch a cooking safety campaign Wednesday.

Some fear the rash of fires may grow as spring break continues in Oklahoma schools and more children are at home alone, Oklahoma City Fire Maj. Brian Stanaland said.

``It's not anyone doing anything on purpose,'' he said. ``It's just a little bit of carelessness.''

In one fire, a young cook mistakenly thought the stove had been turned off. Stanaland said parents should take time to carefully explain appliances and never assume they're simple enough for a child to understand.

In another fire last weekend, a child doused burning grease with water.

``Grease and water don't mix,'' Stanaland said. ``The grease floats on top, so then you've got a floating fire in your kitchen.''

He said it's better to call the fire department than to try and fight it alone.

Stanaland said cooking dishes should never be left unattended, even for a moment.

``What happens is that seconds turn to minutes and then you've got a fire,'' he said.

If a cook must leave something on the stove, Stanaland suggested carrying an object from the kitchen -- such as a wooden spoon --as a reminder to return.

``The best thing is stay with it and don't leave what you're cooking,'' he said.

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