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Scandal665
07-20-2017, 06:01 AM
I hope this is the right place to post this. I'm working on a short story and could use some help. I've been researching how to burn down a professional kitchen and need some help. I'm writing a horror story and the Main character (a woman named Felecia) is dragged into the kitchen of the restaurant. (It's a bad place. They serve Long Pig- human meat- and she's the next menu item.) She frees herself from her attacker. Now I'm hoping to have her start a fire and burn the place down. (And escape) Except, I'm having trouble figuring out how to burn the place down.

The restaurant I'm picturing is a small, trendy restaurant with a small kitchen. It's in Philadelphia, in a reworked building that didn't have a lot of space to begin with.

so my question is: How can my MC start a fire in a professional kitchen? Is this possible for a non-cook to do?



Thank you for any advice or tips. If anyone has a different suggestion as to how she can destroy the place and escape, I'd love to hear it. This is driving me crazy!

cornflake
07-20-2017, 07:15 AM
Sure, tons of ways. I mean actually burn down depends in large part on the building (what type of building, construction, whether the kitchen itself has sprinklers, etc.) and setup, but I'd have no problem believing it, and she can at least start a hell of a fire.

Turn on as many burners as she can grab on the stovetop going by, the salamander and open the door, the grill, whatever she can spot and hit with an open flame you put in the place, and grab for the oil with the other hand and throw it on, throw kitchen towels toward it, hold a couple (they're in stacks, clean, also in piles, dirty if the place hasn't been cleaned for the night) into the fire to catch and fling them around, aprons, etc.

A kitchen is mostly metal, but if she keeps oil in her hand and keeps splashing it about and flings burning rags, the stove will keep going and it'll be impressive at least. A grease fire produces fuckloads of smoke. She might also find a bottle or two of booze nearby on the run and chuck them toward the stove, or a burning rag pile, wholesale. They'll blow the hell up and splatter flames.

frimble3
07-20-2017, 10:55 AM
Every couple of years we lose a restaurant (and sometimes adjoining buildings) to an unintended gas fire or grease fire (or one feeding the other). If it can happen unintentionally, it can be done on purpose. Just follow the Flake's instructions.

GeorgeK
07-20-2017, 04:09 PM
If they are serving illegal fare, then it's likely that the kitchen was not built to or maintained at professional standards

blacbird
07-20-2017, 11:22 PM
As said, there would be lots of ways to start a fire. But, as a reader, I'm a little concerned about plausibility. Seems to me that somebody in such a horrid situation would just plain want to get out of there as the main priority. Taking the time to fool around to start a fire strains my suspension of disbelief.

caw

M.C.Statz
07-21-2017, 02:12 AM
As said, there would be lots of ways to start a fire. But, as a reader, I'm a little concerned about plausibility. Seems to me that somebody in such a horrid situation would just plain want to get out of there as the main priority. Taking the time to fool around to start a fire strains my suspension of disbelief.

caw

Well, that's a motivation issue, not a capability issue, right?

Capability: As long as the place doesn't have a fire suppression system, it should be very easy to get a good inferno going. Cooking oils and grease are quite flammable/inflammable (depending on how you use the word). Also note, natural gas explosions are often survivable. Often the difference between living and dying is if you get blown into something hard, or you have a chance to skid along the floor for a gentler stop. If you're out of the direct blast radius and shielded from debris, you can even escape without a scratch.

Motivation: I'm assuming she doesn't need to start a fire to escape, just a preference of watching the hell-hole burn down on her way out?

One thing you could do is set her character up in a way where she is very much orderly, like's things done her way, even a control freak. It causes her personal issues and gets her into the mess. The only way out is to do something chaotic - blow up the kitchen, leaving herself singed and bruised, but alive. She lives and achieves personal growth.

Al X.
07-21-2017, 02:22 AM
My hero would steal a gasoline tanker, drive through a wall, open a valve, and throw a lit cigar backwards as he casually walks away.

But then again, he just destroyed massive evidence in a grisly crime scene. So, yeah, I'd think on that a little bit.

ULTRAGOTHA
07-21-2017, 03:08 AM
Yank the gas line out of the wall. Or make a hole in it.

blacbird
07-21-2017, 04:08 AM
Well, that's a motivation issue, not a capability issue, right?

Sure, but . . . somebody captures you because they want to eat you, and you manage to get free. You're going to stick around, even for a microsecond, to set a fire, before you get the hell out of the place?

Not me.

caw

M.C.Statz
07-21-2017, 04:41 AM
Sure, but . . . somebody captures you because they want to eat you, and you manage to get free. You're going to stick around, even for a microsecond, to set a fire, before you get the hell out of the place?

Not me.

caw

This is going down a bit of a rabbit hole, I'm not sure if it's considered rude to go off topic, but I feel the original question is answered pretty well, so...

To answer your question, yes, I would want to get out as fast as possible. And if that's what she wants to do, she should obviously attempt that. However, if the author want her to burn down the kitchen, they can arrange it so she wants to burn down the kitchen.

The easiest way would make that the only way she could escape without being caught. E.g. She's free from her restraints, but there are guards on every exit. Big fire, even a gas explosion, and she might be able to slip out through the chaos.

Also, the author can also set up a scenario where escaping isn't her only priority. Maybe she has a friend, lover, or family member trapped as well. Maybe she has the option to save herself, but chooses to find a way to help them. Again, she could gamble that the fire will provide a distraction for her to enact her rescue plan, hopefully not burning her and her friend in the process.

Or she could have a sense of revenge, either for a wrong directly against her, or maybe she lost someone to their cannabilizing ways. Maybe she's willing to risk her own life in order to satiate that desire.

Clearly the first one works for almost every character - people in dire situations will go to extremes. But the last two are obviously personality dependent.

M.C.Statz
07-21-2017, 05:09 AM
Sure, but . . . somebody captures you because they want to eat you, and you manage to get free. You're going to stick around, even for a microsecond, to set a fire, before you get the hell out of the place?

Not me.

caw

I have to apologize, somehow I thought you were the original poster and you were having doubts about your plan. My posts were written in the spirit of "No, your plan still works, here's why!"

Anyways, I do feel if the author develops the character well enough, or crafts the scenario just so, I wouldn't have trouble suspending my disbelief.

GeorgeK
07-21-2017, 05:52 PM
And if that's what she wants to do, she should obviously attempt that. However, if the author want her to burn down the kitchen, they can arrange it so she wants to burn down the kitchen..Never underestimate the motivation of revenge...very plausible

Scandal665
07-21-2017, 05:56 PM
Hmm. Everyone raises some interesting points.

First of all, thanks for some great tips and ideas. I appreciate all the responses! I'm already making some notes.

Maybe I should clarify. She stumbles in the kitchen (Very short version, I think it's actually believable how she ends up there) and her date wants to trade her to the kitchen for his life. (he's a jerk) She breaks his hold on her. The staff are trying to stop her because she's seen too much. She's trying to escape them and....that's where I'm stuck. I thought having her burn the kitchen down would fit this story. Destroy the place and get her free. Get everyone else out of the place. She did not go in with the intention of burning anything down, she's there on a date. No premeditation.

I hope I can make it believable. The story's still a rough draft, so I hope to catch snags and keep people from having trouble suspending their disbelief.

CWatts
07-21-2017, 07:04 PM
I thought having her burn the kitchen down would fit this story. Destroy the place and get her free. Get everyone else out of the place. She did not go in with the intention of burning anything down, she's there on a date. No premeditation.

I hope I can make it believable. The story's still a rough draft, so I hope to catch snags and keep people from having trouble suspending their disbelief.

Since you have an urban setting, having her set a fire makes sense because that will bring the fire department. Philadelphia's response times have been slipping but it's still going to be around five minutes.
http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20151217_Controller__fire_department_response_time _slipping.html

frimble3
07-22-2017, 01:49 AM
If they are serving illegal fare, then it's likely that the kitchen was not built to or maintained at professional standards
This^. A place can be a fancy, trendy operation 'out front' and a filthy mess in the back. See episodes of any of those bar-or-restaurant renovation shows, count the number of times 'fire-trap' is mentioned. Grease-traps never cleaned out, everything covered in oily grime, unwashed rags, etc. She wouldn't have to spend time racing around turning things on, setting things up. Tip something greasy (Oil? People parts being rendered?) onto a gas burner, and hope for the best. Fires start quickly, and if the kitchen staff isn't trained or experienced, well, panic kills.

cornflake
07-22-2017, 04:35 AM
Yank the gas line out of the wall. Or make a hole in it.

It's well behind the stove.


Hmm. Everyone raises some interesting points.

First of all, thanks for some great tips and ideas. I appreciate all the responses! I'm already making some notes.

Maybe I should clarify. She stumbles in the kitchen (Very short version, I think it's actually believable how she ends up there) and her date wants to trade her to the kitchen for his life. (he's a jerk) She breaks his hold on her. The staff are trying to stop her because she's seen too much. She's trying to escape them and....that's where I'm stuck. I thought having her burn the kitchen down would fit this story. Destroy the place and get her free. Get everyone else out of the place. She did not go in with the intention of burning anything down, she's there on a date. No premeditation.

I hope I can make it believable. The story's still a rough draft, so I hope to catch snags and keep people from having trouble suspending their disbelief.

Oh, that's easy. I was picturing the kitchen closed for the night. There are staff in there? The burners are on, you're fine. One is standing with a pan in his hand, the burner is on.

She grabs a bottle of brandy and flings it at the stove. Whoomp. They all turn, she grabs a pile of towels and throws them toward the flame and runs, or grabs a bottle of oil and tosses it too. That will distract people, especially in a small kitchen.