SmokeFire Grease Fire: Who Has Had One? What Is One?

TxJedi

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Don't own a SF yet, but have had a few grease fires on gas grills, all due to insufficient cleaning. I knew they were my fault.
 

bbqking

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I have seen a lot of posts on our forum and even more elsewhere about grease fires and the Weber SmokeFire. It something that keeps coming back up over and over again and yet when I really try to dig in and find actual owners that have had grease fires there are very little that have posted about it or discussed it at all. Yes I have seen THE famous Youtube video and I guess the OTHER famous YouTube Video.

What I have seen A LOT of is people deciding not to purchase a SmokeFire and probably just as many deciding to return their unused or used SmokeFire due to the potential risks of a grease fire. I am totally good with that. To each their own. It is a free world and I love the fact we live in that world we can chose what we buy or not for what ever reason. That is not what this post is about. So what is this post about you ask? I want to know who has actually had a REAL grease fire in the SmokeFire. I also want to know who has had a REAL grease fire in ANY outdoor cooker. This is a forum and by definition of a forum it be a place to share our ideas, thoughts and experiences on the subject/products we are having a discussion about so ourselves and others can make educated decisions about what they are buying, cooking, etc.

So whats my ideas and thoughts?
  • I like Weber as most of you know but I am honest period and YES the design is flawed for grease mitigation on the SmokeFire. I did not engineer it but if I did did I would have went exactly opposite on the grease ports just for starters.
  • If you look at the design of most Weber gassers with flavorizer bars it is very similar around open flames and grease channels and ports. It may not be a wood fire but yes the gasser is still an open flame and that design has been with Weber for a long time. No secret they used this model again. Probably should have changed some things and "stole" some of the engineering of the cookers they bought from competitors when designing it but they did not.
  • Whats the definition of a grease fire in a grill? I think A LOT of people that do not have any experience with the SmokeFire (and maybe any grill) are posting about the risk of the SmokeFire having a grease fire are listening to others instead of making their own educated decisions. Simply Put, to me a grease fire is a fire that is caused by ignited cooking grease & fat that has pooled (and may also contain other flammable material such as dust, wood, leaves, charcoal, etc.) that lasts for a sustained period of time that causes extremely high temperatures and flames inside the grill cavity that has the real potential to destroy the food being cooked and damage the cooker. A real grease fire potentially poses a threat to life and property beyond the grill as flames may go beyond the grill and the structural integrity of the grill may fail. Even simpler definition.................IF the lid was closed the whole time and it destroyed my food or more, it was probably a grease fire. If I was opening the lid and saw the fire and close the lid and the fire extinguished before my food was destroyed and my grill was not damaged in anyway then it was not a grease fire.
  • So now I just got to ask..............How many has seen a REAL grease fire in their SmokeFire, Videos of a SmokeFire? How many has seen this in another outdoor cooker of any type?
  • My thoughts on the videos I have seen? Lets just say I like this forum and everyone here and wish to stay friends with everyone! If I am asked I would be glad to discuss... For now all I will say is there is a bunch of grills shown in one of those videos that have had grease fires from hundreds of users and the other one they really need to watch the video and question how well they applied what they did. It is clear there was some issues there to blame too if they really look at it..........
My Experiences of grease fires in grills:
  • Weber Kettles: YEP! had a few. NO damage to grills. Just shut the lid and killed the oxygen supply.
  • Genesis: YEP! My oldest one I had a real grease fire with flames shooting out of the vents on a long low and slow cook. Lessons learned.
  • Summit: YEP! Once on a low and slow and the other because of my own poor husbandry.
  • SmokeFire. Not yet and I have done general clean up just like I always do but I am def. not meticulous and have honestly just kind of let some things go just to see if it may happen. Nothing stupid. Just been purposely lazy. I think it could definitely happen though just like any other grill! I just have not had one happen yet.
  • Offset(s): YEP! Full Disclaimer.......All of them I have owned cost less than about $400 each but I have had a few small ones.
  • Charbroil/Brinkman: Had one almost burn to the ground we were using for a company cook. Seriously. I removed the propane tank as the paint on the legs of the grill was on fire. I was not the chef, I just saw what was happening on this one.
  • Kamodo: YEP! Low and Slow. Shut the lid and killed the Oxygen supply. NO damage to the grill.

SO what is YOUR Experiences?
What I did on my last SF cook was put two drip pans with some water in them in the bottom on each side of the burner. It caught almost all of the drippings. I did see more flaming down below, but it wasn’t a raging inferno. All in all my opinion is, yes it seems to have its flaws, but what the pip is everyone expecting....?! You use fire, or charcoal, wood, or pellets...to cook, it burns...if you don’t like cooking with fire, hire a butler to do it for you. I’m liking my EX6, my only issue is it’s a big learning curve, but I’m enjoying it. If parts fail, I’ll get it fixed. I am really unsure about the pellet smoke taste too, right now I think I prefer charcoal with real wood over pellet.
 

John762

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My $0.02.
New owner of a EX6. Had a bit of a fire today.
Was a very clean machine
6 slabs of ribs
4 hours 225
2 hours in a sealed pan with a 1/2 inch apple juice
took them out of the pan and back on the grates
turned temp up to 450 to "firm and dry them" quickly
5 minutes later it flashed over.

I shut it down & pulled the food, Some charred.
The fire went out rapidly with the shutdown. I did not need an extinguisher.

Once it was cool, the ash did dam up the drains causing retention.
when I cranked the temp it caught.

Note to self in the future don't crank the temp. If you use it as a smoker don't make it a Grill without cleaning it.
 

bbqking

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I always use something under my greasier foods. Just shop vac out the ash.... I know it maybe shouldn’t happen but even with my charcoal grills I use drip pans and such...so no bother for me
 

JpsBBQ

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Total red herring. The early gas lighters should be ashamed. Any cooker can have a grease fire if you are negligent. There were definitely issues with the software and firmware early on and removing the wire safety guard is a must, but The rest is total hogwash IMO.
 

bbqking

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Total red herring. The early gas lighters should be ashamed. Any cooker can have a grease fire if you are negligent. There were definitely issues with the software and firmware early on and removing the wire safety guard is a must, but The rest is total hogwash IMO.
I agree. I’ve used my SmokeFire a lot now and I’ve never even come close to having a grease fire. Granted I use drip pans and wire rack pans a lot, mostly for clean up reasons. Just shop vac the pellet ash build up every so often. I could see though, that a lot of grease dripping mixing in the ash, then the fan blowing flames out like it does at time how a grease fire could start. I just think that some people don’t clean out the grill after each use, so wala...grease fire
 

AHoneyman

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If you let the ash build up and block grease flow, you will have a fire. It takes less than five minutes to push the ash into the holes. If you do not clean the ash off the sides and in the trough, it becomes an operator issue.
 

abmet

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Yep I just scrape it down after each cook. Super easy and quick. I usually use a pan for long greasier cooks but mostly for cleanup.
 

luckylady131

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I am new to pellet grilling (and grilling in general). We had issues with the power supply after the 2nd use, and we finally were able to get that taken care of (replaced the control panel). They also sent me a new auger shoot, but I haven’t replaced that yet.

Anyway, I had a fairly big grease fire yesterday. But I know it was user error. I think I hadn’t throughly cleaned it from the use prior, and I had too much meat on the grill. I was cooking chicken quarters on 325° for about an hour. Everything was okay, then about 25 minutes in - I noticed way too much smoke. I lifted the lid to check, and huge flames! The chicken was charring, and the grill temp had shot up to 450°. I removed the meat and closed the lid and waited. The fire died down with no other issues. I returned the meat to the grill to finish them off, and didn’t really have issues after that.

We’ve had grills before, and my husband was determined to get this SF grill. But I’m still in the fence about it (as I’m the one using it - not him!). It seems like it’s better suited for slow burn meats (briskets and the like), which we just never do.

so the jury’s still our for me rather I like it or not.
 

Dassman5

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I am new to pellet grilling (and grilling in general). We had issues with the power supply after the 2nd use, and we finally were able to get that taken care of (replaced the control panel). They also sent me a new auger shoot, but I haven’t replaced that yet.

Anyway, I had a fairly big grease fire yesterday. But I know it was user error. I think I hadn’t throughly cleaned it from the use prior, and I had too much meat on the grill. I was cooking chicken quarters on 325° for about an hour. Everything was okay, then about 25 minutes in - I noticed way too much smoke. I lifted the lid to check, and huge flames! The chicken was charring, and the grill temp had shot up to 450°. I removed the meat and closed the lid and waited. The fire died down with no other issues. I returned the meat to the grill to finish them off, and didn’t really have issues after that.

We’ve had grills before, and my husband was determined to get this SF grill. But I’m still in the fence about it (as I’m the one using it - not him!). It seems like it’s better suited for slow burn meats (briskets and the like), which we just never do.

so the jury’s still our for me rather I like it or not.
What you are describing sounds like the type of flare-up that can happen on any grill —I have had it happen several times on my large Summit 620 grill even after just cleaning — while doing chicken or sausage for large groups. On the other hand I have had no issues with my EX4. Only once have I had a true grease fire, and it was on my Summit, where the entire grease collection pan caught on fire while searing a steak because I neglected to clean and empty the pan after a family reunion cook: a clear differentiation between a grease fire and a flare-up if ever there was one.

Certainly checking and occasionally cleaning the excess ash and grease from the EX is part of any cooking regimen - I just finished doing so after a 21+ hour smoke of a huge brisket and 5 lbs of pork belly — but we all forget it from time to time, and keeping a spritz bottle of water available and removing the food and closing the cover while the flare-up dies down, is all part of the “game”.
 

luckylady131

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What you are describing sounds like the type of flare-up that can happen on any grill —I have had it happen several times on my large Summit 620 grill even after just cleaning — while doing chicken or sausage for large groups. On the other hand I have had no issues with my EX4. Only once have I had a true grease fire, and it was on my Summit, where the entire grease collection pan caught on fire while searing a steak because I neglected to clean and empty the pan after a family reunion cook: a clear differentiation between a grease fire and a flare-up if ever there was one.

Certainly checking and occasionally cleaning the excess ash and grease from the EX is part of any cooking regimen - I just finished doing so after a 21+ hour smoke of a huge brisket and 5 lbs of pork belly — but we all forget it from time to time, and keeping a spritz bottle of water available and removing the food and closing the cover while the flare-up dies down, is all part of the “game”.

Whatever you want to call it - flames were singeing my arm hairs as I was removing the meat! The flames covered the entire bottom of the grill - and weren’t “kissing” anything...they were fully engulfing the meat I had on the grill. I had to throw out about half of the meat because it was so charred and burnt. And I had just checked it about 5 minutes prior, and I keep an eye on it since I can see the grill from my kitchen. I checked my pan and stuff before hand. I just think I had too much meat on the grill surface at one time. Lesson learned.
 

JpsBBQ

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Rare to see this if cooking below 400. The fat generally combusts at @375 or so. However, it can happen on almost any cooker if there is buildup or residual drippings or you are producing huge amounts during the cook. Like mentioned above, chicken, brats, fatty hamburgers are very common culprits. Not everything you will cook produces a bunch of fat drippings that it warrants a thorough cleanup, but you definitely will start learning which ones do. Stick with it, it’s worthwhile.
 

AHoneyman

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And if you start doing those long, slow cooks, you will enjoy the SF even more.
 

SmokeMaster43

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I had been searching for people who have been having this issue as well. I've had my SmokeFire EX4 since April 2021. My first 5 cooks were perfect. The last 3 have had grease fires! I always scrape it out before each cook and change the ash pan. Each time, the temperature will drop 50+ degrees then when it is heating back up, the fire starts. After the first fire, I had to replace the glow plug. I cleaned the entire inside with the Weber cleaner from the site. The next cook was 2 racks of St Louis style ribs. About 3 hours in I saw the temperature had shot up. I went outside, opened the lid and I'll be damned if there wasn't another fire. Before today's fire, I had scraped out the ash and everything else. Wiped it up with paper towels and brought it up to temp. Put on what was going to be some pork belly bunt ends. 30 minutes in, the temp drops 60 degrees. I checked and the pellets had clogged in the hopper. I pushed them around and it fired up again. Made it to 250 and I noticed way too much smoke. Opened the lid and you guessed it. A legit fire. I'm not sure what to think anymore.
 
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