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WARNING: Paper towels covering food can catch fire in the microwave

Putting a paper towel over food to avoid a mess in the microwave is a common trick, but our coworker said her paper towel went up in smoke!

GREENSBORO, N.C. — "Oh goodness, you can see the damage, even the rack has char on it,” said Carrie Hodgin about her home microwave.

Carrie took pictures right after the fire in her microwave happened. She says it wasn't a smoldering or a smoking paper towel on top of food, the damage was caused by a full-on flame.

"What made it scary is, the food was on the second rack, so you can see how close the flames were to the cabinets. I just was scrambling thinking I have to get it out because it could spread to the cabinet and then the wall and then the ceiling,” said Carrie.

All because she used a paper towel in the microwave. It’s something we all do to keep the microwave from getting messed up. Even a Winston-Salem Fire Department Battalion Chief does it.

“I've always covered my food, my wife appreciates me covering the food to keep the inside of the microwave clean,” said Joseph Ramsey.

Chief Ramsey says more and more paper towels have recycled materials, which could mean metals are mixed in.

“This is something we need to be vigilant of. Stand there right there with it when we cook it to make sure it doesn't start sparking or catching on fire,” said Ramsey.

Carrie Googled ‘paper towels catching fire in the microwave’ and found it's happened to enough people, that paper towels now come with a warning label about not using them in the microwave and what to do if you do have a fire in the microwave. (If it happens, stop the microwave & keep the door closed)

“Normally when you need a paper towel, you just rip it out of a package, you don't look for a warning label about not putting it in the microwave, you just don't,” said Carrie.

She's right, you just don't. 2 Wants To Know went to a store and looked in the paper towel aisle. Every brand on the aisle but one had the warning label about not putting the paper towel in the microwave.

Carrie believes the warning should be much bigger than what you see, and she's made a complaint to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. 



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