Barbecue lighting accidents prompt warning from firefighters
Barbecue lighting accidents prompt warning from firefighters
May 29, 2017
CTV News
Article by: Angela Mullholland
Firefighters in Toronto are reminding barbecue lovers to grill safely, after two people were seriously injured in weekend charcoal-lighting accidents.
According to Toronto Fire, the incidents occurred within a day of each other and both involved inappropriate use of barbecues.
In one case, an apartment dweller ignited charcoal briquettes inside a propane barbecue while on a balcony. Propane or gas grills should never be used with charcoal briquettes because the barbecues aren’t designed to hold the levels of heat that briquettes generate.

In the other incident, a backyard griller using a hibachi and charcoal briquettes used methyl hydrate to light the fire, a chemical typically used as a paint or shellac solvent.

In both incidents, vapours from the grills ignited, causing serious burns to both users and sending them both to local hospital burn units for treatment.
If using a lighter fluid, Toronto Fire says it’s important to use only fluids that are specifically designed to ignite charcoal.
Fluids not approved for barbecues, such as gasoline, alcohol or solvents, evaporate quickly and can create vapour clouds that hang over a grill and ignite violently, causing flames that can easily burn bystanders.
Even when using the correct fluid, it’s important to allow it to soak into the briquettes for a few minutes, so that vapours have a chance to dissipate before lighting a match or barbecue lighter.
Other barbecue safety tips from Toronto Fire include:
• Prior to igniting briquettes, ensure that the can of fluid has been placed at a safe distance from the BBQ. Also ensure that no lighting fluid was spilled onto the area around the actual grill.
• If the briquettes begin to die out, never spray lighter fluid onto hot coals as the stream of fluid can catch fire, igniting the container in your hand
• Always stand a safe distance from the grill while lighting the briquettes
• Never use lighter fluid, gasoline or other accelerants on a gas or propane barbecue
• Keep children and pets away from the barbecue when in use
• Keep loose clothing away from a hot barbecue and use long-handled tongs and brushes while grilling to put you at a safer distance away from the flames
• When finished grilling, make sure that hot coals are fully extinguished before disposing of them in a metal container. Hot coals can easily start a garbage can fire