PORTLAND — Stove-top grease fires are one of the most common types of residential fires, and there’s a right way and a wrong way to handle them, Portland fire officials said today.

Portland firefighters ignited a frying pan with oil in it outside the Central Fire Station today.

As the flames danced, firefighter Adam Behnke showed what not to do: He tossed a cup full of water on the flames.

Flames erupted upward and over the back of the stove as the water mixed and churned the flammable fluid.

Firefighter Randy Stewart then demonstrated proper technique, pulling the pin, aiming the extinguisher and sweeping the spray from side to side. The fire was out in seconds.

The demonstration was part of the kickoff to fire prevention week, which started Sunday.

Capt. Keith Gautreau, head of fire prevention for the state’s largest professional department, said simple devices like fire extinguishers and smoke detectors are proven to save lives.

There were 380,000 home fires nationwide last year and of the 3,010 fire deaths, 85 percent were in residential homes, he said.

In 40 percent of those fatalities there were no smoke alarms, and in 20 percent there were smoke alarms that had been disabled or the batteries were dead. Gautreau said smoke alarms should be on every level of a home, should be tested monthly and have the batteries replaced once a year.

People should not leave the kitchen when frying, grilling or broiling food, he said, and should always make sure flammable objects like pot holders are kept away from the stove top.