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Oil left unattended on stove ignited fire that damaged three Guerneville homes

A fire that destroyed a Guerneville home and damaged two others started after cooking oil was left unattended on a kitchen stove, a fire official said.

The blaze broke out around 10:45 p.m. Saturday at a home near the corner of Fifth and Church streets and spread to neighboring properties to the north and south, Monte Rio Fire Chief Steve Baxman said. He said one of the residents was cooking with peanut oil and briefly stepped outside, unaware he left the stove on after removing the food from the oil.

“The peanut oil just overheated and exploded, and that’s what started the fire,” Baxman said.

Steve Lee said he was deep frying some shrimp in peanut oil and left the kitchen to take a batch to his husband, Mark Babin. He was gone for a few minutes, and when he returned the kitchen was on fire.

The flames quickly spread across the roof and engulfed the home, forcing the couple to flee. “It was probably the most intense heat I ever felt in my life,” Lee said.

No one was injured, but the fire destroyed the couple’s home and heavily damaged the two neighboring houses.

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