I had seen a frying pan full of grease explode into flames once before but I was right there with a damp towel (not wet!) to throw over the pan to smother the fire. I also had a fire extinguisher back then, something I didn't have this time and the fire wasn't intimidating like this one was. Perhaps I saw it bigger than it actually was but it was hot, thick clouds of smoke permeated around it, and a million things were going through my head from what could happen to how to deal with the situation without losing my head.
I maintained my calm in an impossible situation, but couldn't think of a single thing, not even the wet towel, to do, so I panic’d and (started running fire movies through my head for a solution) grabbed the first towel I saw and thought “I’ll smother it”. A wet towel is less likely to catch fire, but a dry one could instantly become an inferno flash fire sending particles everywhere and risking burns or furthering the fire’s cause. Until last night that lesson was hard wired into my head (don’t smother a fire with a dry towel) without actually requiring me to experience the moment- apparently I needed the experience because oh boy did I find out the hard way not to do that.
This time I was ill prepared and the fire had me in such shock I did all the wrong things (except throwing water on it, I knew emphatically that that wouldn’t help). From trying to douse a very hot flame with a cheap dollar tree shamrock towel (which instantly blew up into a string of plastic shrapnel landing all over my arm along with the hot grease that the towel was able to hit pretty hard (built up air from my trying to “stomp” the fire out?) before bursting into flames.
Not a very astute move on my part, in fact I’d not have the second degree burns on my arm had I at the very least got the towel dampened, but in hindsight I also realized the towel was covered in some type of Teflon material (water proofer) that melted and surrounded pieces of the towel and likely saturated with grease. I found a lot of melted and melted into the fibers, plastic pieces from THAT towel.