A Recipe for Disaster

and her family experienced unintended consequences while trying out a new
recipe. “It was Father’s Day, June 18, 4:11 pm when the fire occurred,”
remembers Jessica Gentile of SE Portland. “My son found a new recipe to try.”
After putting oil into the pan and turning on the burner, Jessica admits that
she “went into the living room for what seemed like just less than thirty
she came back into the kitchen to tend to the pan there was already a 5- to
6-inch flame above the pan. 
back, Jessica wondered if the burner was on too high, or perhaps there was too
much oil in the 
or a combination of the two. “I wanted to put it out; however, it was quickly
growing,” she said.
getting her family and pets outside, Jessica went back to try and put the fire out
 But by the time she reentered her home,
the flames had climbed up to the ceiling. Just minutes after she saw the small
flame on the pan, her usually bright and full-of-light kitchen was completely
black and filled with smoke.
to put it out, Jessica put on an oven mitt and removed the pan from the stove. She never thought 
she might get burned. “I
don’t clearly remember running outside with the pan of scalding oil.” The hot
oil spilled onto the living 
carpet and Jessica’s arm as she carried the pan outside. “I collapsed in the
yard; putting the pan 
down onto the grass.” 
the flames or the hot oil severely burned her right arm and shoulder. As her son
frantically called 911, Jessica ran from neighbor to neighbor, desperately
trying to borrow a fire extinguisher. When she found one, she was unable to get
it to work, due to her heightened emotional state coupled with the shock of her
severe burns.  
fire continued to spread to the living room while smoke billowed
from the roof. “I can’t recall ever
being so scared in my entire life,” said Jessica.
and paramedics arrived shortly thereafter.  Despite being badly injured with second- and
third-degree burns to her arm, Jessica did not want to leave her home out of
concern for her children and pets. Nevertheless, she was taken to Legacy
Emanuel Hospital’s Burn Unit. “Burns are extremely painful and it can be
difficult, if not impossible, to manage the pain. The pain ‘burned’ nonstop 24 hours-a-day for the first two weeks after the fire,” remembers Jessica.
next day, Jessica’s co-workers reached out to Red Cross. A volunteer was at her
home by early 
afternoon to assess the situation. Jessica said, “She gave me a packet of information
along with a debit card. My friends helped me find a local hotel that would
allow pets. Then I began to try to piece together the 
of my injuries as well as the damages to the house we were renting.”

The Red Cross volunteers called Jessica almost daily for two weeks after the fire.  They offered her emotional support, guidance, and resources, reassuring her that she and her family would get through the difficult event.  “They proved to be an invaluable resource and support for me as I picked up the pieces that were left of my life and began to move towards healing,” said Jessica.  

Months later, Jessica and her family moved into an apartment, since their home was too heavily damaged.  “We lost most of our personal belongings but are slowly rebuilding.  A skin graft was taken from my thigh to cover my arm and both injuries are healing up.  We will keep moving forward!” Jessica exclaimed. 

The Infamous Pan  that Started It All

Note:  Cooking
fires are the Number 1 cause of home fires and home injuries. The leading cause
of kitchen fires is unattended cooking, such as frying, according to the
National Fire Protection Association. More than 55% of nonfatal, home-cooking
fire injuries happen when people try to fight the fire themselves. The American
Red Cross recommends that you never leave food unattended on the stove and keep
a fire extinguisher in your kitchen. 
Also, never go back into a burning building.  For more information, please visit  http://www.redcross.org/news/article/Avoid-Kitchen-Fires-Use-Red-Cross-Tips.