A missing grease pan turned an evening barbecue into a $250,000 house fire in Edmonton on Tuesday night, say fire officials.

Jack Cook stepped away from his barbecue for just a couple of minutes while cooking steaks, he said.

When he returned, billowing black smoke was pouring from the barbecue. Within a minute, the smoke turned to flames, he said.   

"This … virtually took 3 minutes to happen!" said Cook, gesturing to his burnt wall and porch.

"Some of the grease had dripped down onto the hose connected to the propane tank. The grease drippings caught fire, landed on the hose, melted the hose and the propane tank became a propane torch."

barbecue fire

The fire caused an estimated $250,000 in damages, melting siding, burning through insulation and spreading across the wooden deck. (CBC)

The fire began melting the siding on Cook’s house before spreading to the deck.

Cook’s wife called the fire department, who were able to put out the fire and rescue the family cat found hiding in an upstairs closet inside the house.

Now Cook and his wife say they are going to be staying with family for six months while repairs are made.

Fire officials say this type of fire is more common than most people think.

Deputy Fire Chief, Russell Croome had these tips for safe barbecue maintenance and use:

  • Remove all grease from pan before firing up grill
  • Check hoses for holes or leaks
  • Make sure propane tank is less than 10 years old
  • Keep your barbecue at least three metres from any buildings