An Otago teenager is lucky to have escaped serious injury after a fireball erupted when she was cooking in a Pine Hill house on Tuesday.

The 16-year-old's hands were burnt when she splashed water on a burning pot of oil just after 4pm.

She had been cooking when the oil caught fire, and in her attempt to put the fire out with water, she created a fireball.

"Burning oil is one of the few things you don't put out with water. You try to smother it instead," Willowbank Senior Station Officer Grant Clarkson said.


"The water expands quickly into steam, which blows all the oil out and it self-ignites. So she was hit with a fireball, which then self-extinguished," he said.

The girl rang emergency services about 4.20pm and was treated by St John staff while firefighters pumped smoke out of the house and made sure there was no further risk of fire.

"It [the fire] didn't take hold. We were lucky," Mr Clarkson said.

East Otago fire risk management officer Michael Harrison said oil fires in pots and other cooking devices should be smothered with a pot lid, oven tray or even a damp tea towel.

Oven elements should be switched off, either at the wall or the main switch board if it was not safe to touch the oven switch, he said.

Pots and anything else burning should not be moved, in case the fire spread.