‘Alexa’ speaker helps teenage cook put out pan fire

A TEENAGE cook faced the nightmare of his home burning down when a pan of oil caught fire and he was unsure how to tackle the flames.

But Harrison Stringer – alone in the house at West Byfleet – kept his head and asked a smart speaker in the kitchen what to do.

Harrison Stringer with the pan that caught fire as a prepared dinner

He followed the advice of the speaker’s voice, Alexa, and successfully doused the blaze.

Harrison, 14, was cooking dinner while his mother was out for a run. The two centimetres of oil he was heating in a pan ready to fry some chicken caught fire as he was checking the recipe.

“I knew from television that you can’t put out an oil fire with water, so I was hesitant about what my next move should be,” he said. “The fire had already reached the extractor fan.”

He carefully carried the pan to the kitchen door and, with his hands full, called out to ask advice from the Amazon Echo speaker in the kitchen.

“I quickly abandoned the idea of searching for the answer on my phone, so I asked Alexa,” Harrison added. “Following Alexa’s information, I took the pan outside, placed it on the ground and put a larger pan over the top to put out the flames.”

Harrison, a member of the Addlestone Army Cadets unit who is starting at Bishop David Brown School in Sheerwater next month, is an accomplished cook. He likes to experiment with new recipes and was preparing a katsu chicken curry.

His mother, Joanna, said: “I was really struck by Harrison’s quick thinking. It was comforting to have the extra help from Alexa that he was doing the right thing in the emergency and that helped him to stay calm.

“I returned from my jog to a delicious meal and only a slight smell of burning betrayed that anything had happened while I was out.”

The UK manager for Alexa, Dennis Stansbury, commented: “It’s so inspirational to hear Harrison’s story. We’re proud that Alexa was able to lend a helping hand during what must have been a difficult situation for him.”

* ALEXA followed standard fire service instructions for tackling burning oil or fat, but the essential advice is not to move the pan.

First of all, turn off the heat then – only if it is safe to do so – place a metal lid on the pan. This should suffocate the flames.

Never use water or a fire extinguisher, which could spread the blaze and always call the fire brigade on 999 if you feel unable to tackle a burning pan.

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