Kathy Papadopoulous of Andover, Massachusetts, knew there would be problems in the wake of the gas line explosions in the area, but she wasn't expecting her new hot plate to start a grease fire.
"Put the little frying pan to fry an egg, it started smoking and I took it off," said Papadopoulous. "Literally, it was on fire."
She was just trying to cook for her first time using the hot plate.
"I'm never using it again," she said.
In a split second, big flames were shooting up from her frying pan.
"So I just ran out the door with it," she said.
She made it outside with the pan on fire and called 911.
"It was very scary," said Papadopoulous. "I was, like, running for my life, out the door, with the pan in my hand, it was on flames."
Papadopoulous is one of the thousands of people who have picked up hot plates distributed to residents who are without gas following the explosions that rocked the Merrimack Valley.
"Hopefully it won't happen to anybody else," she said.
She has a warning for people now using hot plates.
"I would be very careful," said Papadopoulous. "I wouldn't take your eyes off them ... I wouldn't cook with it."
Andover firefighters say the hot plate did not malfunction.
The Andover Fire Department gave the following guidelines for safe usage:
- Use only on countertop.
- Remove pots and pans immediately when cooking is finished.
- Keep a one-foot circle of safety around the hot plate and clear the area of anything flammable.
- Turn off when not in use.
- Stay by the hot plate while cooking.
- Teach children to keep three giant steps away from cooking devices.
- Have a pot cover nearby to cover any potential fire, and unplug the hot plate when it is safe.
- Do not use extension cords or power strips with hot plates.
- Stop using the device if it trips a breaker or blows a fuse.
- Read any instructions.