Kains Avenue south of Marin Avenue was blocked for about 45 minutes Tuesday night as firefighters responded to a small blaze that appeared to have resulted from grilling in a cluttered area and leaving a barbecue unattended.
Capt. Jay Jorgensen of the said neighbors called for help just before 7 p.m. when they saw a man in a third floor apartment at 1060 Kains trying to put out the fire on his balcony.
When firefighters arrived, they found the flames mostly doused. Albany Police also responded to the scene.
Space constraints and a lack of supervision appeared to have contributed to the small fire.
"It was so cluttered that there was no room on the balcony; they had to stand inside the apartment to be able to barbecue outside," said Jorgensen. "There was such an amount of clutter, and little sparks that came out of the Weber barbecue, that it probably ignited papers underneath it. The barbecue was also right next to a wooden ... railing."
Jorgensen said a man and a woman in the home had grilled on the balcony, then appeared to have closed a sliding door into the apartment and left hot coals smoldering.
He recommended never leaving a barbecue unattended while cooking or while the coals remain hot.
Barbecues should be kept clear of any surrounding clutter or flammable surfaces. He recommended a three- to four-foot minimum clearance distance around a grill.
"Radiated heat from the barbecue shouldn't heat any structural portion of your home," he said Tuesday night. He said grilling could certainly be done on a balcony given the proper conditions. "You can do it safely, but you should ensure that you have proper clearances because barbecues do get hot."
The apartment resident used buckets of water as well as his building's dry chemical fire extinguisher to put out the flames, which appeared to have caused less than $500 in damage.
But had circumstances been different, if the resident and nearby neighbors had not noticed the problem so quickly, the situation had the potential to cause much larger problems.
"If it had been later, it might have gotten missed and really developed into something," said Jorgensen. "The fact that there were passers-by who noticed right away and called it in really made a difference, too."
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