Cooking fires typically happen because people are not paying attention to what they are doing, or they are using tools or additives that should never be used anywhere near flames or heat sources.
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When it comes to a run-away Traeger fire, the culprit is oftentimes a malfunction in the wood pellet feed.
However, it usually gets out of hand because the owner operator is not paying attention.
When a cooking fire gets out of hand, what typically happens is that the temperature rises so fast, it causes any fuel source within reach to ignite.
That in turn adds to the problem, creating more fuel, more fire, and a hotter temperature. The situation turns into a repeating chain reaction, grabbing more fuel and burning hotter and hotter.
Without some kind of mechanism to cut off the oxygen, an out of control BBQ or grill fire can easily reach critical heat very quickly.
When that happens, the metal of the grill starts to warp and anything of a weaker material starts to melt or catch fire as well.
Without responding to it quickly, a run-away Traeger fire can become a serious problem fast.
Traeger Runaway Temp
Normally, the high end of a cooking heat is about 500 degrees Fahrenheit, which is already very hot.
Meat burns very quickly at this temperature. However, with a runaway fire, the temperature can more than double, easily reaching over 1,000 degrees.
It becomes so hot, it reaches a radiant heat level that is dangerous to be close to.
The more fuel and oxygen the fire gets at this point, the hotter it gets. Oil and food grease easily catch fire, adding to the heat.
The goal then is to cut off the oxygen, which in turn causes the flames to die off as there is nothing left to consume once that happens.
Why do Traegers Sometimes Have Large Temperature Spikes?
There can be a variety of causes for a Traeger temp spike. For example, cooking food heavy with oil and fat will trigger fat fires at a hot enough temperature.
Grease fires not only burn hotter, they can sustain a flame longer than just plain wood. That tends to contribute to rising heat, which in turn catches more things on fire that might otherwise just get very hot but not produce flame.
Densely packed fuels will also burn hotter than smaller pieces as well.
A log, for example, takes a lot to catch fire, but once it does, it will burn well over 1,000 degrees versus a grass fire at barely 400 degrees.
The same thing can happen inside a Traeger with a dense clump of pellets and fuel.
Traeger Tailgater Runaway Temps
Using a Traeger in a parking lot grill is probably not the safest approach to cooking food for a game.
Not only does the grill have a good chance of becoming a problem with people partying and not paying attention to what they are doing, it would be positioned next to vehicles, which also have gas tanks.
Any kind of a runaway fire can create a potential risk of bigger problems in a densely packed parking lot.
Many times people leave the grill to cool down once the game starts, but that essentially means leaving an unmonitored hot grill on its own, again a serious fire risk even in a parking lot.
The best way to deal with uncontrollable heat is to anticipate the problem before it occurs.
When cooking with any kind of grill, it’s a smart idea to have a fire extinguisher nearby that can handle a grease fire.
At a minimum, one should at least have a hose primed and ready with a shut off valve on it when cooking, just in case.
How to Control the Heat in a Traeger
The amount of fuel provided to the firepot in a Traeger has a direct impact on its heat level.
By reducing this flow, the heat level will either not reach full maximum or will taper off. Think of the fuel feed like a gas pedal in a car. The more it’s pushed, the faster the car goes. The less it’s pushed, the slower. Traegers work the same way in terms of temperature control.
However, in some cases, as seen in this video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eV-t1WXAMWg) a Traeger can get out of control heat-wise due to a malfunction.
Again, the key factor is to shut off the Traeger and let the built-up heat escape. The unit needs to cool down, and then the mechanical aspects have to be inspected for a failed part.
Fire safety should always be a person’s top priority when cooking with any kind of grill, including a Traeger.
Food can be replaced.
However, fire injuries and property damage are far more devastating. Don’t be a statistic. Monitor your Traeger, always keep control of the cooking situation, and plan ahead for problems to avoid them when they start.
This article was written by Robert McCall, the founder of bbqdropout.com. Robert also owns and operates the BBQ dropout YouTube channel where he demonstrates his first-hand experience cooking all kinds of meats and strives to provide helpful, authoritative content for people looking how to barbecue.
He primarily hand writes the bulk of the content but occasionally will leverage AI assisted tools, such as chatGPT, to properly edit and format each blog post on this website. This ensures a pleasurable reading experience for visitors. Read more about our editorial policies here. If there are any improvements that can be made to this article, reach out to us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org