AUGUSTA — A cooking fire that badly injured a city woman Wednesday has prompted a safety message from the Fire Department.

Firefighters were sent around 3:15 p.m. to the Inn at City Hall on Cony Street because of a report of smoke. Crews later learned that an 81-year-old woman at the retirement home was injured badly by a fire that started when the woman opened an oven door to remove an item, Augusta Deputy Fire Chief Dave Groder said. The fire, which ignited the woman’s clothes, was out by the time firefighters arrived.

The woman was taken by LifeFlight helicopter to Maine Medical Center in Portland with what Groder described as “significant injuries.”

The fire caused little to no damage to the building, Groder said. No evacuation was necessary.

Groder said cooking accidents are the No. 1 cause of home fires and injury across the country each year. The leading cause of fires in the kitchen is unattended cooking, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Most cooking fires in the home involve stove-top cooking.

In light of those dangers, Groder urged people to use caution. Simple steps, such as making sure long hair is tied up and kept away from the heat source, and not wearing loose clothing, can help improve cooking safety, Groder said. Those cooking should stay in the kitchen while frying, grilling or broiling food; and food being baked, roasted or boiled should be checked regularly. It’s important to stay in the house whenever food is cooking. Anything that can catch fire, such as oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains, should be kept away from the stove top. Groder also discouraged storing anything on a stove top because it can catch fire if a burner is turned on accidentally.

The fire protection association also suggests keeping a lid nearby when cooking to smother small grease fires, which is done by sliding the lid over the pan and turning off the stove top. Leave the pan covered until it is cool.

For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed.

If there is a fire, the association suggests leaving immediately, but if you try to snuff out the flames, make sure everyone else is out first and that you have a clear path to the outside.

Craig Crosby — 621-5642 | ccrosby@centralmaine.com | Twitter: @CraigCrosby4