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A small grease fire, above left, gets a dose of water to extinguish it and quickly becomes an inferno. (Sarah Smith / Enterprise)

Osage invites the neighborhood for pancakes, inferno

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The grease fire that exploded in Osage Saturday caused onlookers to exclaim: "Whoaaaa!"

Inside the Osage Community Center, a similar but more muted reaction was taking place.

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At least five people learned they had dangerously high blood sugar and needed to see their doctors.

The Osage Lions were busy making pancakes Saturday as a freewill breakfast accompanied the fire department's open house and demonstrations, while volunteers inside were screening for diabetes, glaucoma and macular degeneration.

"We do this twice a year," said Lions president Tom Caracio. But the health screenings are a spring activity. In the fall a raffle is held to fund community service projects - and there are scores of them - the Lions participate in.

"We've managed to catch four, I think five now" cases of diabetes that were previously unknown, said Linda Albrecht-Norby, a Vergas Lion who came to help with the glucose testing. "That's why this screening is so important."

And that was at 10 a.m. The health fair still had two hours to go.

"You're 136, which is great," volunteer nurse Lynn Just told 21-year-old Kara Zweerink, of her blood sugar level.

They were screening all ages, especially encouraging parents to have young children tested. The needle prick on the finger was painless, Zweerink attested.

"When it's getting over 200 we want them to see their physician," Albrecht-Norby said. Blood sugar levels can be taken either after fasting or eating, but acknowledging you've eaten aids the health care professionals assess the right levels.

The Lions Club uses the funds raised to maintain the community recreation field, the pavilion, the beach and rest area, Caracio said.

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It was the smoke and burning activities that attracted hordes of kids outside, two years after the Carsonville Fire & Rescue squad moved into its new quarters adjacent to the community center.

Not surprisingly, every child of a volunteer firefighter wanted to follow in Mom's or Dad's steps.

Little kids climbed the fire trucks, pushed all the buttons (which had been deactivated), toured a smoky cabin and watched in awe as firefighter Justin Price explained how not to fight a grease fire on your stove.

"Call 911 first," Price advised, "before you try to fight a fire."

Then another firefighter demonstrated why. Armed with a metal cup on a long wand, he reached the pole in and poured one cup of water on the tiny stove fire.

It was an immediate inferno and explosion.

A home extinguisher could work, he said.

Price advised placing a cover on the pan, if possible. He also held up a small can called StopFire, a metallic device with a heat sensor that can attach to the range hood. If your stove catches fire, the can peels open like a flower and disperses fire retardant powder down below on the burners.

"It can make a mess," he cautioned, but at the price of $30, and the cleanup doesn't even compare to having a real fire.

The firefighters were well rested - it had rained Friday night.

By then they'd been on 17 calls since April Fool's Day.

They taught kids to stop, drop and roll, gave them hugs and posed for pictures with them in their gear.

It was the perfect ending to the day. Kids and parents left flushed with health and happiness, with tummies full of pancakes.

And health screeners hoped their early intervention saved a life or five.

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Sarah Smith
Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.
(218) 732-3364
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