The story of a Bumbling Bear and a BBQ Burning Briquettes


Like most of us, you have furnished your deck or porch or patio with a gas grill or traditional Weber-style charcoal grill. It is important to recognize the serious fire hazards of these grills when located too near a home. There is the obvious risk of igniting wooden deck or siding adjacent to a hot grill. Deck fires happen thousands of times a year across the country killing many and causing many millions of dollars of damage.

Maybe not so obvious is the very real risk of a bear (or other large wildlife or dogs) starting your home on fire with a grill. 

If you live in or near the woods or in communities near bear country, you are probably aware that bruins do wander through occasionally. Smells from grilled food will tempt hungry animals to investigate. They are attracted to a grill hoping for a tasty midnight snack of smoked salmon, burger or steak.

We recently responded to a home that caught fire in the wee hours of the morning after a suspect bear tipped over the Weber. The homeowner had grilled earlier that evening and closed up the lid and grill vents. The animal of unknown size tipped over the grill and still warm coals spilled out onto their cedar deck. After smoldering for awhile, the deck ignited around the refreshed coals and then flame quickly spread to the home’s structure.

Fortunately the homeowners and family escaped without injury when awakened by their smoke alarms as smoke and flames entered the home. Multiple area fire departments responded and managed to extinguish the hot blaze, but the structure was extensively damaged and many irreplaceable family keepsakes were lost.

Ask yourself if you really must keep and use the grill on your deck. If the answer is ‘Yes’, please find a way to secure it so that it can not be upset by your neighborhood Yogi or Boo- Boo (or neighbor’s Boxer, Bowser). (Also, you could place the grill on a fireproof platform of ceramic tile or paver bricks that are a safe distance from flammable siding and deck railings.)

weber grill on patio

Posted by Lloy Griffing 10/24/2014. Your comments are welcome.