Unattended cooking oil ignites two-alarm fire


A two-alarm fire started by cooking oil left unattended destroyed a house in Columbia, displaced four residents and injured one firefighter Friday afternoon, Howard County fire officials said.

The firefighter was treated for heat exhaustion at Howard County General Hospital and released.

The residents -- Eric Rall; his wife, Karen; son, Eric Jr., 13; and daughter, Christina, 4 -- were seeking housing through their insurance company Friday, fire officials said.

According to investigators from the state fire marshal's office, the fire started after the teen-ager began heating oil for deep frying, then left the kitchen. The oil overheated, caught fire and began spreading on the first floor of the house, police said.

By the time the teen discovered the fire and called 911, the two-story wood-frame Colonial home in the 9000 block of Belwart Way in Long Reach Village was in flames, said Lt. Sean Kelly, a spokesman for the Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue.

When fire officials were alerted at 12:38 p.m., a paramedic from Long Reach Fire Station responded to the fire alone. The fire truck from Long Reach was handling a hydraulic spill on the west side of Columbia at time, Lieutenant Kelly said.

The lone medic reported a raging fire, and a fire truck from the Banneker Station near Town Center was dispatched, Lieutenant Kelly said.

Firefighters from six Howard County stations and one Anne Arundel County station brought the blaze under control within 40 minutes. The fire caused $150,000 in structural damage and $50,000 damage to contents, according to the state fire marshal's office.


* Owen Brown: 7200 block of Swan Point Way: Someone tried to steal a 1991 Chevrolet Camaro by tampering with its ignition Thursday, police said.

* Long Reach: 5400 block of Treefrog Place: Someone tried to pry open a home's front door Thursday, police said.

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