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Park Rapids fire hall was local 'hot spot' Saturday

Drew and Jack Baumgartner met a Park Rapids firefighter in full turnout gear -- albeit reluctantly -- at Saturday's open house. (Photos by Shannon Geisen/Enterprise)1 / 8
Smokey the Bear made an appearance as well.2 / 8
Park Rapids Police Chief Jeff Apple's children -- McKinlea, 4, Thomas, 2 and Hadlea, 6 -- donned new, temporary hats.3 / 8
Virgil Eskola, Gene Girtz and Andy Trudeau dished up lunch at the June 10 open house.4 / 8
In a car extraction demo, Park Rapids firefighters proved the Jaws of Life's strength as an emergency rescue tool. Within 15 minutes, they had stripped the vehicle of its roof and doors. Assisting with the demonstration were Matt Rousu, Casey Krautkremer, Alex Torkelson and Logan Hanisch.5 / 8
Firefighters Matt Rousu, Crystal Krautkremer and Kasey Krautkremer demonstrate what happens if you attempt to put out a kitchen grease fire with water. (Photos by Shannon Geisen/Enterprise)6 / 8
Walter, 7, and Winston, 2, clamor aboard the fire truck with mom Natalie Gartner.7 / 8
The fire hall project included a 3,700-square foot expansion. The new apparatus bays increase space for the growing fire department fleet. 8 / 8

The Park Rapids Fire Department turned up the heat and threw open the fire hall doors for their annual open house.

The family-friendly event attracted many. A dunk tank and bouncy house, complete with water slide, drenched giggling youngsters.

Firefighters grilled hamburgers and hot dogs with all the fixings, plus a serving of their famous firehouse beans.

Fire engines and the newly remodeled fire hall were open for public tours.

The Park Rapids crew also demonstrated how to properly extinguish a kitchen grease fire and propane fire.

Crystal Krautkremer, the sole female firefighter in Park Rapids, quizzed young and old about fire prevention during the demos. She reminded families that kitchen fires easily happen when the cook get distracted.

"It takes less than 15 minutes for a kitchen fire to start," Krautkremer said. "The biggest thing I want to convey is that you need to stay near that kitchen when you're working with anything on the stove."

The leading cause of kitchen fires is inattentive cooking.

Krautkremer said it's a common misconception that you can throw water, flour or sugar on a grease fire.

"All three of those will make that fire explode," she warned. "The way to put out a kitchen fire: You need to smother it with a lid."

Krautkremer reminded everyone to have a working smoke detector in the kitchen at all times.

"If you can't get close enough to put the lid on and put the fire out, you need to call the fire department, especially if it's a grease fire. It can get out of control very quickly."

Don't attempt to remove the pan from the stove until it has cooled off, she added, otherwise the grease can splatter and spread the flames.