Cooking fire leaves Calgary teen with extensive burns

News source from CTV News

The community is coming together for the family of a Calgary youth who was severely injured in a grease fire on Saturday afternoon.

Riley Smith, 15, was with his mother while she was cooking with hot oil on their stove inside their home in Beddington at about 3:30 p.m.

She ended up getting distracted and the pot got too hot. By the time she managed to remove the hot oil, it was too late; the oil burst into flame.

She tried to smother the flaming pot with a towel before leaving it to get a fire extinguisher.

At that point, Riley grabbed the pot and tried to get it outside to keep his mother safe and prevent any further damage to the house.

Riley’s father says he was only out of the house for about 20 minutes before he came back to see fire trucks all over his neighbourhood.

“I was hoping that everyone was okay and hoped to God that that wasn’t my house,” Clayton Duplessie said.

By the time he got back, Riley was outside and paramedics were administering first aid.

“There was my son, sitting on the curb, and I could tell that something was wrong. His hair was totally singed and it was pretty dramatic for me.”

The teen suffered third-degree burns to 30 percent of his body, including his hands, feet and face.

As a result, he’s going to need at least two major surgeries and will need to stay in hospital for at least month to recover.

Clayton says that his son suffered quite badly in the incident.

“When I saw him [in hospital], he was quite sedated. The shock he was in when the ambulance was here had started to wear off and he had started to scream and he was like, ‘Dad, Dad, Daddy’ and I’m like powerless. I was just as much in shock as his mother.”

Riley’s mother was hurt in the incident too, but it’s nowhere close to the extent of how badly he was injured.

The Calgary Fire Department says that people need to know about the risks when they’re cooking with liquids like oil.

“Cooking oil can boil over quicker than you might think,” says Acting Battalion Chief Hank Ormstrup. “You should have a lid handle that fits the pot so you can put it over it and stop the emergency quite quickly just by removing the heat by turning the element off and removing oxygen in case it catches fire.”

Ormstrup says it’s inadvisable to try to move the cooking oil or throw it into the garbage.

“Don’t combine it with water because it reacts violently and then you’ve got oil all over the place.”

The CFD is called to help out with cooking fires on a daily basis.

“About one to two incidents per day,” Omstrup says. “About half of those are cooking oil.”

The community has come together to help the family with costs of Riley’s treatment. They’re on a limited income, so the support is well-received.

“He did a major surgery today to relieve some of the pressure, but they say it’s down to the bone in his leg, so he’s going to have a lot more,” Clayton says.

Riley’s brother Jesse was the one who set up the campaign and says he did it to help out.

“I’m pretty upset about my brother. I didn’t get to go to the hospital yet, but I’m going to go see him soon.”

He says he didn’t think that anyone would take notice, but it’s been shared quite a bit so far.

“Riley, he was really brave during the situation. He knew what he did was dangerous and foolish but he also understood that he saved the house. He was really mature about it and he did a really good job protecting my mother.”

For information on how you can donate Riley’s family, you can go to the GoFundMe page.

(With files from Kathy Le)

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