Air fryer erupts, puts Sterling Heights baker in hospital for five days

An air fryer erupted in flames and landed the owner of a Metro Detroit bakery in the intensive care burn unit for five days.

"Because of this air fryer, I almost lost my life," said Louia Essak who owns Sweet and Sweeter in Sterling Heights. "I was inhaling all the smoke, chemical-burns inside my lungs."

The Sunday before Thanksgiving, Essak's wife was making chicken wings in their air fryer when it exploded.

"There was only smoke. I cannot see even a foot," Essak said. "It's all dark smoke, grey."

He used a fire extinguisher to prevent the fire from spreading to other flammable materials in his garage. When firefighters arrived, they extinguished the fire.

But the chemicals had already caused damage to his lungs.

After receiving treatment from the Detroit Medical Center, Essak returned to work at the bakery. However, his breathing has not completely returned to normal yet; they might be permanently damaged.

"It's not like before," he said. "Like 60%, I can breathe ok, (but) if I walk I get tired. … I cannot talk. I'm just coughing."

Essak also took to TikTok to share his experience, warning others to be careful while using an air fryer. He is usually a prankster, posting for his 88,000 followers, and garnering millions of views.

"It's not a game, it's not funny," he said during the video. "Do not trust it. …Want to use it? Stand by it."

It is still unclear what caused the incident.

Here are some tips to follow while using an air fryer: 

  • Unplug when not using
  • Clean often
  • Give the vent space
  • Supervise while using