Warning about fire potential with any grill…

While this is a definite warning about any grill the situation came up with my Traeger Renegade Pro this weekend and I want to make sure that I put this out there. This is by no means limited to a Traeger, or any Pellet Grill, this is for any grill.

Its been a bit of time since I have done a more thorough cleaning on my grill and before I embarked on an afternoon grilling session over the weekend I did my usual cleaning on my Traeger Renegade Pro. This included taking out the grates, drip tray, heat deflector and then breaking out the shop vacuum and getting all the soot, leftovers from the barrel of the grill, new foil for the drip tray, and a quick push of any grease in the trap out into the bucket.

I cook a lot of chickens and have done some other cooks that have left some grease on the grill and this time I must not have done a good enough job getting all the leftover grease out.

After putting everything back together I began the startup, turned the controller to “Smoke” and then once the smoke began pouring out, I increased the temperature to my cooking temperature. As the grill was heating I noticed that it was smoking much more than usual and when looking more closely I noticed flames beginning to come out of the grease spout and saw the light from flames under the lid.

When I saw this I began to think through the situation, I didn’t panic, but was concerned about the best way to handle the situation.

Issues:

  1. Proper shutoff technique is to turn the grill off using the dial, but leaving powered up.
    1. This will blow the fan on max to ensure the remaining pellets are burnt, but also means that its a further fire hazard.
  2. The hopper is full
    1. Full hopper is ~20lbs of fuel for the fire
  3. How to I stop the flames that are already there
    1. Water can and will make a grease fire worse

Decision

What I decided was to first put out the live flames. Once they were out I then emptied the hopper, which was critical because the less fuel that is there the better. As the pellets were emptying from the hopper I noticed smoke coming from the auger and up the pellets.

Seeing that smoke, I knew I needed to purge the auger to ensure nothing was left in there to bring the fire into the hopper. Once the hopper was empty and the flames were doused I proceeded to turn the temperature on the Pro Controller to MAX. This would allow all the pellets that were left to be fed, and any that were remaining, and especially those that were already lit, to be pushed into the fire pot.

Once the auger tube was empty I turned the dial back to off, let the shutoff procedure complete, and cleaned out the excess grease. When I was satisfied that everything was cleaned out better I went back through, loaded a bit more pellets back into the grill and restarted everything and monitored it closely until I was satisfied everything was okay.

Conclusion/Warning

Always make sure your grill is clean. 
Be ready in case of an emergency.
Have the necessary tools to put a fire out.
Be ready to call emergency services if necessary, and if you find yourself in this situation do what you can to get the grill away from any structures to limit any collateral damage if it gets out of control.

If a situation arises, do not get flustered. Think on your feet, think quickly, but do not panic.

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