Peppers cooked in hooch lead to facility fire, evacuation

There's a lot that's unclear in an attempt to cook peppers in Everclear in an assisted living residence last week.

An apparent attempt to diffuse the burning sensation of peppers backfired in Nebraska, resulting in three hospitalizations. The culprit was the high-proof alcohol.  

Kearney volunteer firefighters arrived at St. Luke's Countryside Villa just after 3 p.m. on Thursday, according to published reports. Minutes before, residents had complained of smelling smoke. When the property manager arrived to find a hallway filled with it, she pulled the fire alarm and escorted 20 residents outside.

The tenant put out the fire by tossing the burning peppers in a toilet before firefighters arrived, Nebraska TV reported. Two residents were hospitalized for chest pains and another for smoke inhalation.

Everclear is suggested in some recipes as a way to “burn off” highly irritating chemicals like capsaicin that give peppers their characteristic “heat.” Peppers are typically soaked in a high-alcohol content liquor, and then cooked. Everclear comes in strengths of between 140 and 190 proof.