Durham Fire Department notes increase in kitchen fires during COVID-19 pandemic

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) — The aftermath of a fire can be shocking.

“It’s more than just you burn up your favorite pan and have to throw it in the trash. And it can happen really, really quickly,” said Elaine Towner, Durham Fire Department life safety educator.

That’s why every October, the Durham Fire Department tries educate residents about fire safety before it’s too late.

This year is all about safety in the kitchen. Durham firefighters said they have seen an increase in kitchen fires during the pandemic.

“There are a lot of distractions going on in people’s’ homes because that’s where they are all the time and it’s really easy to lose track of what’s going on in your kitchen,” Towner said.

RELATED: Raleigh family escapes fire tragedy thanks to 4-year-old child’s quick thinking

Towner says the number one way to prevent a kitchen fire-don’t leave your stove unattended if you’re cooking and don’t leave anything on the counter that could catch on fire. If you’re cooking with grease, keep a pot lid nearby.

“If it flares up, put the lid on it and turn the stove off,” Towner said.

During fire prevention month, firefighters usually spend a lot of time talking to school groups to spread their safety messages, but the pandemic put those presentations on pause. For now, they’ve gone virtual by creating educational videos on their Durham Fire and Life Safety Facebook page.

Towner said firefighters are still answering calls for help.

“It does take a little bit longer to get all that PPE on and get into the home but they’re still coming. We’re still running calls,” Towner said.

If you would like to share those educational videos with your family, click here.

SEE MORE: Fire escape planning with your family

Durham Fire Department said teachers can request virtual fire prevention classes and virtual field trips for their students. For more information, visit the Durham Fire Department website and submit a community service request.

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Democrats threaten to impeach William Barr over John Durham Russia probe

Democrats are turning up the heat on William Barr, accusing the attorney general of trying to influence the November presidential election and threatening impeachment after he gave a fiery speech last week lambasting career federal prosecutors.

The chairs of four House committees urged the Justice Department’s internal watchdog to open an “emergency” investigation into whether Mr. Barr is using U.S. Attorney John Durham’s Russia probe as part of an effort to taint the presidential election.

In a letter Friday to Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz, the four lawmakers said Mr. Barr’s comments and actions could be damaging “to public confidence in the integrity of the DOJ and our democratic process.”

“Attorney General Barr has signaled repeatedly that he is likely to allow DOJ to take prosecutorial actions, make public disclosures, and even issue reports before the presidential election in November,” the lawmakers wrote. “Such actions clearly appear intended to benefit President Trump politically.”

The letter arrived the same day Rep. Steve Cohen, Tennessee Democrat, authored a scathing op-ed calling for Mr. Barr’s impeachment and a day after Democratic senators pleaded for Mr. Horowitz to intervene.

A Justice Department spokeswoman and a spokeswoman for the inspector general’s office declined to comment.

Democrats were rankled by Mr. Barr’s speech marking Constitution Day last week at Hillsdale College, a school with conservative ties.

Mr. Barr accused his Justice Department prosecutors of acting as “headhunters.” He also compared them to preschoolers, decried them as part of the “permanent bureaucracy” and suggested they should be reined in by politically appointed leaders.

The next day, the Democrats launched a three-pronged assault on Mr. Barr. They targeted the Durham probe in particular.

The Durham probe has been digging into the origins of the Russia collusion probe since May 2019 and veered into a criminal investigation five months later. Democrats now worry that Mr. Durham’s team is cooking up an “October surprise” for the presidential race.

Mr. Barr’s political opponents say his public comments about the investigation could violate Justice Department policy if Mr. Durham releases a report or brings indictment within 60 days of Election Day.

Mr. Barr in 2018 authored a report saying politically charged prosecutorial and law enforcement actions must be avoided within 60 to 90 days of Election Day, but Democrats contend Mr. Barr has changed his mind. They cite an interview the attorney general had earlier this year with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt.

“You don’t indict candidates or perhaps someone that’s sufficiently close to a candidate, that it’s essentially the same, you know, within a certain number of days before an election. But you know, as I say, I don’t think any of the people whose actions are under review by Durham fall into that category,” he said in the interview.

Democrats fear Mr. Barr will try to skirt Justice Department rules by having Mr. Durham issue a report instead of filing criminal charges.

“With potentially devastating consequences for our democracy, Attorney General Barr appears to have changed his position and

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House Dems call for an ‘emergency’ DOJ watchdog review of Durham probe

President Donald Trump has sought more prosecutions related to Durham’s probe, and has called for FBI and intelligence officials he views as his political enemies to be punished.

The Democrats are asking Horowitz to expedite a review of various aspects of Barr’s comments and Durham’s review. Among them: Whether Barr’s public commentary complies with DOJ policy and the 2018 inspector general report; whether DOJ has implemented Horowitz’s earlier recommendations on politically sensitive investigations; if a Durham report issued before the election would comply with department policies; whether Durham has the legal authority to be conducting his probe, including a formal scope memo; and whether Durham is permitted to issue a public report about anyone who hasn’t been charged with a crime.

Senate Democrats sought a similar probe in a letter to Horowitz on Thursday.

Barr has rejected the notion that any findings issued by Durham ahead of the election would inappropriately influence the campaign. He has argued that DOJ practices prohibit such steps but only if they are aimed at candidates themselves or their very close associates.

Barr has publicly indicated that the Durham probe does not contemplate investigating former Vice President and Democratic nominee Joe Biden or former President Barack Obama. He has at times publicly characterized potentially explosive findings in Durham’s investigation but has denied that there’s political pressure to move it quickly.

Last week, a top Durham aide and long-serving federal prosecutor, Nora Dannehy, resigned from the DOJ amid a push from the president to publish the results of the probe before the election.

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