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Need input - toasted 3 birds + near miss safety item

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
I started 3 birds at 6.30am (took the back and breast bones out). 2 on the lower rack and 1 on the upper. (I use an ECB electric)

My neighbor had some of the smoked chicken I did last weekend and found out I was going to smoke today so she brought the 3rd one over last night.

Things were going fine but since the top rack runs ~30 deg warmer, I decided to switch the birds' locations after 2 hrs with the birds at 145 ad 150. (I did this last weekend near the end with no issue)

As soon as I moved the two chickens to the top rack, I had such a flare-up with grease in the bottom heating element area that it scorched everything. (peeled paint off the exterior of the ECB 1/3rd the way up)

I have sand in the pan and put foil over it for easier clean-up. This caught most everything. Maybe when I moved the two birds up, so much go past the foil that is caused the flare-up.

Any thoughts on what went wrong would be appreciated. (I took some pics)

Here is the REAL warning: (NEAR MISS is what I used to call these when I managed Health and Safety in a plant)

I do this on my wood deck behind the house. (should have it on concrete or something I know) I heard the ET go off (@ 285) so I looked and saw the flare-up going on (not too bad I thought). I had an old piece of carpet over the top to help push the temps up (it was 40-45 outside). I take the carpet off and open the lid slightly to vent like I always do during a temp change. Then I take my son down the street to baseball practice planning to be back in about 15 minutes.

My wife was about to step out with a neighbor for a walk. She hears the ET-73 go off again, looks outside and sees the flames are REALLY flared up and even a 2nd piece of carpet I had near the ECB is smoldering. (it was not touching just near it to hold heat) While she is looking, it gets worse so she unplugs the ECB and gets the carpet away. (scorched now)

If the wife does not see this, who knows what might have happened in the +15 min till I got home!

I added this for folks in case it reminds you to be careful going forward.

I have left this electric smoker with foiled ribs in it for maybe 1-2 hrs before. I have run it over night doing a pork butt (ET-73 monitored) before too.

Going forward I will do the following:
(1) get the smoker further from the house -- it was 5-6 feet today.
(2) put it on something non-flammable (it would still be on a wood deck)
post #2 of 17
Glad your wife caught it in time. That could have turned out much differently! Glad you're all safe! Thanks for the word of caution.
post #3 of 17
This may be the reason for the flare up. If you've peeled a chicken raw, you will notice pads of fat (called 'leaf fat') in the tail flap area, where the thigh joins the body and by the breast/wing area. If you're smoking low and slow, the fat begins to melt, yet the skin/bird is not hot enough to allow this liquidy fat to run off. When you put the tongs around the bird you squoze this liquified fat out of the bird and onto the hot metal of the smoker. This then burst into flame.

A near miss it was, and you understand the dangers involved having been a plant safety guy. I am surprised at the size of the flames and stuff, but you never know. Like the old blind man in "Young Frankenstein" said: "Fire is our friend!" as poor ol' frankenstein is howling in pain with a finger on fire... fire may be our friend but it is also dangerous. By the way, that movie is one of my all time favorites. My wife and I watch it every new years eve while we eat chineses take-out at home. It is our comedy ritual!
post #4 of 17
Glen: Glad yer wife caught it! I used concrete paver blocks under my cookers on the deck, helps with that their fire thing and easy to clean up asin a bonus. Get yerself a good fire extinguisher and keeper handy fer smokin, one just never knows! Besure to give that grease a nice deep holller to rest in, don't run yer foil tight over yer pan. Keep er safe buddy and chalk thisin up to sperience!
post #5 of 17
Thread Starter 
I was thinking about this after I got home saw how scorched it was. Yes, the foil is tight and it is indented (sand is maybe 1/2" from top of pan) to catch drippings. It seemed to a good job this time too.
post #6 of 17
Thread Starter 
Riv, I think you are on to something here. When I trimmed the backbone out I did not trim off some of that tail end skin as much as I did last week.

Here are the pics:

I brined 9 hrs and put some of Jeff's rub on mine. I can't tell if there is excessive tail end skin from these though.

neighbors with no rub, just brined.

Toasted ECB. I can't even get the barrel section off yet.
post #7 of 17
Thread Starter 
Yes, I have fire extinguishers in the kitchen and garage. Will definitely get the pavers. I need to be further away from the house, too. This was why I resisted the urge to use it in the garage this past winter. (used the carpet for a windbreak) I will now get a decent windbreak together to get rid of using carpet as a 'blanket' on cold days. (this may drive me to drum from Steve (BBQ Bubba), though, if I can take on fire management learning curve)
post #8 of 17
Thread Starter 
Exactly. It definitely could have been working its way to the house by time I got back via the deck.

I am responsible for 4 sites at work and I communicate with the corporate safety folks all the time on items like this. We try to over-communicate on near miss items as much as real incidents.
post #9 of 17
Glad to hear you're OK. Man, that was quite a "flare up".

You mentioned the carpet issue, wind break etc. I think this welding blanket fits the bill. It's what I use in the winter as well. Plus, it's cheap.


I can't remember the forum member, but someone posted this before which is how I found it.
post #10 of 17
Thanks Abelman, I'm going to get one myself!
Didn't know there was such a thing.
post #11 of 17
HEy Glen...the "cement backer board" for tile base works well. you can get in .5 in. thick sheets and it's like 3X4 foot or something. Set the smoker on it.
post #12 of 17
Yep, rich beat me to it. The backer works great, and is cheap, and when it gets to nasty, just throw it away. Good thing ya aint got vinyl siding.

Man, that purdy lil smoker looks like it went through a missle attack!PDT_Armataz_01_05.gif

I would advise anyone to never leave one of these or even an electric alone with no one home, unless it is way away from the house, and flamable stuff!
post #13 of 17
Thread Starter 


Well, I am back home from a friends house and we have been out of power 5 hrs.

I thought I would try to access the SMF from my blackberry. It seems to be working. Wife says I am taking this to a new level with my smoking geek friends. After today, she just wants me to learn how NOT to burn the house down.

Rich - you had mentioned that board before. I will be getting one of those and a welding blanket shortly.(Thanks for link KC)

Dan - agree one of my lessons is to not be so causal with leaving it for short periods of time. We never leave the clothes dryer on now so why leave this.
post #14 of 17
Glad you are ok. Lesson learned, it could have been much worse.
post #15 of 17
I will bet ya everyone has had a flare up here. They only start when ya leave the easy chair near the smoker. Sometime running to get that next beer can bite you in the ssa.
post #16 of 17
Wow, that's scary stuff. Food for thought.

Glad it turned out okay.

post #17 of 17
I use the cement board as well under my gas grill just to give me a stable surface on the grass. Once I decide on where I want my C/G to go , I'll be useing a sheet ( 3' X 5' ) of durrock under it.

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