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Texas Leads U.S. in Thanksgiving Fires as Diners Fry Turkeys

Texas Leads U.S. in Thanksgiving Fires as Diners Fry Turkeys
More cooking fires occur on Thanksgiving than any other day, State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. said. Photographer: Robert Sullivan/AFP via Getty Images

Texas had the highest number of Thanksgiving cooking-related fire claims from 2007 through 2011 as deep-frying turkey led to more accidental blazes, State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. said.

Texans filed 19 such claims on the holiday over the past five years, according to a report released today by State Farm, the biggest U.S. home and car insurer. Illinois and New York each reported 18 claims, followed by Ohio and Florida with 13 apiece. Data for individual years weren’t released.

“Frying the turkeys seems to be kind of a fad that took off here 10 years ago or so,” Mark Hanna, a spokesman at the Insurance Council of Texas, said in a phone interview. “More and more people have tried it instead of just sticking it in the oven, maybe found it was more exciting to cook it outside.”

More cooking fires occur on Thanksgiving than any other day, State Farm said. Twice as many cooking-related claims are filed from the holiday blazes than on any other day in November.

“It’s a very, very easy time to get distracted,” Heather Paul, a State Farm spokeswoman, said in a phone interview. “You’ve got people at your house, maybe you’ve got something going on on the TV, and it just takes a second for you to turn your back on it to have a fire be able to get out of control.”

The number of Thanksgiving claims nationwide was cut almost in half from 66 in 2010 to 36 in 2011, Bloomington, Illinois-based State Farm said. Paul credits the safety video released by the insurer last year and starring actor William Shatner, who has burned himself using a turkey fryer.

“I love to fry turkey and have been doing it for years, but I am not immune to frying accidents,” Shatner said. “People need to remember that hot oil and turkey can be a dangerous combination.”

U.S. fire departments respond to more than 1,000 fires involving a deep fryer each year, according to the National Fire Protection Association. The fires cause $15 million in property damage.

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