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Tampa firefighters pull the plug on turkey fryer demonstration, citing hazards

TAMPA — Firefighters were all set to demonstrate in explosive detail what not to do on Thanksgiving by throwing a frozen turkey into hot, boiling oil.

But, they decided, it was too dangerous. Even for them.

If YouTube videos and tales of Thanksgivings past are to be believed, what happens is this: The frozen bird catches fire, explodes into a giant torch and becomes more fireball than Butterball.

Although the National Fire Protection Agency discourages the use of outdoor gas-fueled turkey fryers that immerse the bird in hot oil, fire officials acknowledge people are going to do it anyway.

It poses several serious hazards: fire, injury and property damage, to name a few.

At 10 a.m. Thursday, several firefighters were going to show a gaggle of reporters how bad it could get when a supervisor pulled the plug.

It wasn't safe, they said.

The message they still want Tampa Bay residents to hear is that there really isn't a safe way to cook with an oil-based fryer, officials said.

Just a "safer way" and a "not really safe" way.

According to the fire department, the No. 1 cause of fires in the Tampa Bay area on Thanksgiving is due to cooking mishaps. Fire experts encouraged customers to purchase already fried turkey or use an oil-less turkey fryer as an alternative.

Marissa Lang can be reached at or (813) 226-3386 or on Twitter @Marissa_Jae.