Ketchikan Fire Department’s Engine 1 is shown in 2020. (Eric Stone/KRBD)

A man was seriously burned Wednesday night in a grease fire at an apartment on Stedman Street in downtown Ketchikan. Ketchikan Fire Chief Rick Hines says the blaze was reported at about 9:20 p.m.

“We arrived to find a male who was pretty significantly burnt outside the structure. It was a grease fire on the stove that water was applied to,” Hines said. “We took care of the injured person, obviously, and transported him to PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center.”

Hines says after the man received initial treatment, he was flown to the burn unit at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

The multi-unit apartment is located across an alleyway behind the New York Hotel. Hines says firefighters accessed the building from a stairway across from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union hall and were able to extinguish the blaze fairly quickly.

“We then checked for extension of the fire and ensured that the fire was out. We ventilated the smoke out of the building and then we searched and ensured that all the occupants of the apartment building were located,” Hines said.

He says the fire was contained to the apartment’s kitchen, but there was smoke damage throughout the six-unit building.  Hines says residents of the other five apartments were able to remain in their homes.

Hines says pouring water on a grease fire can cause the it to spread violently and result in serious injuries. He offers a few alternative approaches to attack grease fires in the kitchen.

“Well the first thing you should do is turn off the burner of the stove. You either use an appropriate fire extinguisher to extinguish it, or you just simply cover it with a lid if you have a lid available. Some people have used flour to extinguish these fires also, but generally once you remove it from the heat source the fire’s going to go out,” he said.

Hines says crews from the South Tongass Volunteer Fire Department assisted the Ketchikan Fire Department. He says the North Tongass was en-route as part of the community’s automatic aid system but were told to turn around when once the fire was under control.