So, my leg caught on fire...

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So, my leg caught on fire...

Postby Scott P » Sat Jul 02, 2022 7:17 am

While visiting the father in law in North Carolina last month, I fired up his Char Broil grill to gook some fajitas for dinner. I used it the prior evening for some chicken thighs, and it worked fine. Well, this time, I came back into the kitchen to see the grill flaring up, basically on fire. Here's the thing, the grill is on a screened in porch. So, I turned off the burners and I grabbed it by the handle and dragged it outside to the deck. Meanwhile, the porch and wall were on fire. The source, a bottle of lighter fluid was stored behind the grill and had caught fire. I instantly saw that thing just burning the porch or house down, so I grabbed the metal pot we were using to carry water to put out the fire and used it to "scoop" the bottle to get it safely outside. At that point, the bottle broke open and left a trail of fire behind me, including on my lower right leg.

The fire was put out once the father in law finally got his hose connected. No real damage to the porch or house. I, on the other hand, ended up with second degree burns on my shin. I got to spend the night at the Burn Center at UNC, apparently, one of the best in the nation. Luckily, I avoided surgery and skin grafts, which was a real possibility discussed that night. I had two weeks of daily bandage changing before the skin healed enough to expose to air. The pain was not cool. Think road rash or sunburn. Every time I moved or flexed (like pushing the gas pedal), it hurt.

Right now, I have to stay out of the sun for pretty much the rest of the summer. The skin itself will take 4-6 months to fully heal and a good year for the pigmentation to return. We had a trip to Splashway almost two weeks ago and I ended up with a blister on the skin from a sunburn, despite wearing a UPF 50 sun sleeve and keeping the leg in the shade.

I burn through over 1,000 pounds of charcoal on a yearly basis. I have four fire-based cookers on my back porch. Never have I hurt myself cooking. Still, one moment of carelessness got me. The grill should not have been used on a screened in porch. I should have noticed the darn bottle of lighter fluid behind that grill. I should have thought through my approach to getting the flaming bottle of lighter fluid off the porch that didn't include me catching fire. Lesson learned. Don't get complacent. Still be careful, especially when using stuff that you aren't used to.

I won't post pics. I'm sure you'd rather see meat cooked rather than my burned leg.
Last edited by Scott P on Thu Jul 14, 2022 7:51 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: So, my leg caught on fire...

Postby OldUsedParts » Sat Jul 02, 2022 8:19 am

WOAH, Scott - - - glad you're healing and wiser for the experience - - - thanks for the HEADSUP and reminder that fire is fire and should never be handled as anything else. I'm sure that most of us have been right on the edge and never realized it. :tup: :whiteflag: :chef: :salut: :texas:
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Re: So, my leg caught on fire...

Postby Rambo » Sat Jul 02, 2022 8:29 am

Dang that sounds horrific. I had some brisket fat fall on the back of my hand and it melted it, maybe the size of an orange. Very painful, lots of Silvadene is a miracle drug; hopefully your Dr. Prescribed you some. Take it easy and best wishes for a speedy recovery
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Re: So, my leg caught on fire...

Postby Sailor Kenshin » Sat Jul 02, 2022 8:48 am

I've had serious burns but not from fire (pot of boiling coffee dumped on me by stoned waitress followed by successful lawsuit). Burns are painful. Wishing you a full and speedy recovery.
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Re: So, my leg caught on fire...

Postby Scott P » Sat Jul 02, 2022 9:57 am

Rambo wrote:Dang that sounds horrific. I had some brisket fat fall on the back of my hand and it melted it, maybe the size of an orange. Very painful, lots of Silvadene is a miracle drug; hopefully your Dr. Prescribed you some. Take it easy and best wishes for a speedy recovery


I had three tubs of that cream. Applied thick like frosting. Then burn gauze, pads, gauze wrap, gauze sock and finally an ace bandage to control the swelling. It was a long two day drive back from NC for sure. Just going from gas to brake hurt.
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Re: So, my leg caught on fire...

Postby Papa Tom » Sat Jul 02, 2022 5:01 pm

WOW really can't be too careful....
Take it easy...
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Re: So, my leg caught on fire...

Postby david brace » Wed Jul 13, 2022 9:05 am

Wow...glad that you didn't get seriously burned. My friend is a nurse in a NYC burn center with tons of horror stories about his patients.

I was a FF and got a small hot spark burn on my shoulder...and I thought it was the end of the world. They hurt like heck (no pun intended).

We all have to be careful. Even though my pit is on a brick patio I still rake the area to minimize the chance that dried leaves might get an ember.
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Re: So, my leg caught on fire...

Postby Boots » Sat Jul 16, 2022 9:33 am

Really sorry to hear about that and glad you are going to recover. I always hated lighter fluid given the time needed to fully burn it out of the coals. Then switched to fat wood many years ago, works great, very reliable and very safe (no cans of potential fire bombs hiding behind my grill or in the garage, and best of all, no lingering taste in my cooker).

Oh, and one more thing I learned from a couple of comps we were in: ALWAYS keep the firebox a little higher than the cook chamber on an offset smoker unless you have a good drain system (and clean the belly of the cooker frequently. Pig grease is some of the most flammable stuff I ever saw. At two different comps, saw in each case where the fire box wasn’t leveled or higher, they’d neglected to clean the cooker out, and both cookers lit off like a house fire. Six foot columns of flame and endangered everyone around them, burned the pop ups. Very tough to put out, too, they went through a couple of extinguisher each to smother them.
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