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Warner Robins Fire Department urges safety after deadly propane grill fire at fundraiser

Chief Ross Moulton says the motorcycle club cooking for the fundraiser was using a makeshift grill.

WARNER ROBINS, Ga. — The Warner Robins Fire Department is pushing safety this week after a deadly propane fire Friday.

A motorcycle club was grilling for a fundraiser when Houston County Coroner James Williams says the grill caught fire. Two people went to the hospital, where Jonnie Lane Probert, 67, died from his injuries.

One woman who lives in the neighborhood says she heard a loud boom from the house at 200 Tabor Drive Friday morning. The fire department says that was a fire caused by the makeshift grill they were using.

"Using a makeshift grill, it's not been tested," said Lt. Kevin Kendrick, who works in the fire prevention division. "You don't know what you're getting into a lot of times."

Kendrick says that's the biggest issue and the biggest danger with a homemade grill. While you may get more space on a makeshift one, Kendrick says they're lacking in other areas.

"A lot of times with makeshift grills, you don't have the safety devices on a makeshift grill that you would, on one, that you can purchase from any of your stores that have them," Kendrick said.

Kendrick says even the tested, store-bought grills require a watchful eye and some precautions.

"Make sure that you're at least 10 feet away from any structure or any overhangs or anything," he suggested.

If you smell gas and the grill isn't on, check the tubing on your propane tank for a leak.

"Make sure you can use a light soapy water and spray over it," Kendrick said. "You can tell if there's a leak or if you didn't connect it correctly."

Wherever you're cooking, have a fire extinguisher ready. Water doesn't always work.

"Oil fire or a fryer fire, it will not work on it. It's like grease, or it is grease. It will just make it worse," Kendrick said.

If you're cooking inside, Kendrick says the quickest way to stop a fire on a stovetop is to put a metal lid back on the pot. That'll smother the fire quickly, and give you an easier cleanup.

Kendrick says if you're planning to fry a turkey this Thanksgiving, stay far away from buildings, and make sure your turkey is fully thawed to avoid a grease fire.

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