A man was cooking shrimp on the stove in his Thrash Way home Wednesday afternoon when grease splashed from the pan and sparked a fire.
The flames spread quickly, melting the microwave and charring the cabinets above the stove. The fiery heat spread to the ceiling… and then came relief.
The searing heat triggered a sprinkler head that extinguished the fire before it could wreak more havoc on the two-story home.
“Without that extra protection there it would have gotten out of hand really quick,” said Lt. Jonathan Evans of the Myrtle Beach Fire Rescue Department.
The stately Thrash Way house sits across from The Market Common in a tightly packed neighborhood of townhomes that were some of the first in the area to be built with a residential sprinkler system - because of the close proximity of neighboring homes.
The fire was out by the time firefighters arrived around 2:30 p.m.
The water from the sprinkler system “put it out really quick,” Evans said.
Sprinkler heads are typically triggered when the ceiling-level air reaches a fire-specific temperature of around 160 degrees, according to Kauffman Company, a Texas-based fire protection services business that installs sprinkler systems.
Fire protection experts hail the residential systems and other devices, like the StoveTop FireStop, as life-saving measures that are cheaper than costly fire repairs.
The StoveTop FireStop is an automatic fire suppressor that sits above a stove and extinguishes a fire once activated.
These fire protection devices are “not extremely expensive in comparison to replacing a whole room” after a fire, Evans said.
And he says sprinklers can cause less damage.
“Water damage can be more intensive than fire damage” in a lot of cases, Evans said, but caught early enough a fire can be extinguished with one sprinkler.
Sprinklers unload 20 gallons of water per minute compared to fire hoses which can disperse between 250 and 300 gallons per minute, limiting the water damage often reported with fires, Evans said.
No injuries were reported in the Thrash Way kitchen fire. Damages appeared to be limited to the stove and microwave, Evans said.