It takes just seconds. In the blink of an eye, your kitchen stove can go from a calm simmer to a boiling inferno. The end result is a fireball rolling across the ceiling on your home.

Your chances of facing this danger are higher than ever. Cooking fires are blamed for more than half of all fires in a given year. Of those, 66 percent — or two-thirds — started when food, grease or some other substance ignites.

In the case of the Julia and Joe Ancrum, it was candle wax.

“As she came close to the door, I did see the flame,” Joe Ancrum recalled. “I mean, it just raised up! It did it within minutes, because I know I wasn’t gone but just a second or two.”

Julia Ancrum was enjoying an average day in the newly remodeled kitchen. A favorite smelling candle was nearing the end of its life. Julia thought she might try setting it in a pot on the stove.

“I went ahead and took the candle and stuck it on a pot similar to this one,” she explained. “And I turned the stove on as low as I could on the back burner and turned it down to simmer.”

Her husband Joe called from outside for her to bring him some cleaner. Julia said it seemed like she was only gone a matter of seconds. The melting candle wax ignited, starting a fire on her stove.

With Joe holding open the back door, Julia made a split second decision. They would soon realize it was the wrong one.

“Cooking fires are our number one cause of fires nationally, ” said Doug Turner with the Parma Fire Department.

It is what you do within seconds of these cooking fires that can mean the difference between major damage, burns and injuries and even death.

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