What Are The 7 Most Common Causes of House Fires?

Though house fires are quite an uncommon occurrence, they need to be taken seriously.

A report released by the National Fire Protection Association in 2020 found that between 2014 and 2018, more than one-quarter of all reported blazes occurred in homes. On top of that, over three-quarters of all civilian deaths caused by them occurred in houses.

What that means is, while it’s unlikely that your house will go up in flames, if it does, you need to be prepared to protect yourself. One of the best ways to protect yourself against blazes in domestic dwellings is to know what causes them. Here are the seven leading causes of house fires and what you can do to prevent them.


One of the easiest ways for a little flame to turn into a huge mess is by cooking. You’ve already got an open flame on the burner if you have a gas stove, and even if you use an electric stove, wires can cross, and an electrical spark can easily light up.

Be sure never to leave cooking food unattended, and if you have to use a heat higher than medium, closely monitor it. Slight imperfections in Teflon can spark, napkins and other paper products can drift too close to the burner, and so on. The only thing that can prevent a cooking fire is caution.

The Fireplace

Fireplaces are designed to safely house blazes within the home, guiding smoke out the chimney and a mild amount of heat into the home. But many things can go wrong with a fireplace, leading to house fires.

For one, if the chimney isn’t properly and regularly cleaned out, built-up soot can ignite and spread. If an enflamed chimney collapses into a home, there’s almost nothing you can do to curb the spread in time to save the structure. Also, make sure to keep the area beneath the grate cleaned out of ashes and soot.


Like cooking fires, candles are flames that, when left alone (as they often are), can easily tip over, ignite a nearby scrap of paper or cloth, and otherwise snowball out of control.

It’s more okay to briefly leave a room while a candle is lit as opposed to when you’re cooking, but make sure it’s only briefly. Always keep your candle in a holder or on a coaster so that the hot wax doesn’t drip and spread, and keep an eye on the open flame.

Electrical Fires

Electrical issues are the wildcard of the bunch, igniting sometimes suddenly within walls and spreading before you can even detect that it’s happening. Electrical fires are also harder to put out with a traditional extinguisher.

The number one cause of electrical issues is old or faulty wiring. Revamping the wiring in your home as an investment that could save your life.

Smoking & Cigarettes

It’s surprising how many entire structures burn to the ground because a cigarette fell on the carpet or touched a curtain blowing in the breeze.

The three biggest rules you should obey around smoking in domestic spaces are:

  1. To always smoke outside.
  2. To never smoke in bed.
  3. To always keep your cigarette and ashes contained in an ashtray.

Christmas Trees

Despite their cheerful appearance, Christmas trees can be deadly. Think about it. You bring in a dry, dead tree from the outside, give it minimal water to survive off, wrap it in electrical wire, plug it into the wall, and go to bed. It’s like stacking a bunch of firewood in your living room!

With Christmas trees, the key is always to keep water in their trough replenished, so they don’t dry out, always unplug the lights whenever you’re not in the room to enjoy them, and as soon as the holiday has passed, take it to the curb.

Drying Units

U.S Fire Administration explains that these fires cause 35 million in property damage. There are approximately 2900 home dryer fires reported each year and these cause an estimated 100 injuries and 5 deaths.

When they’re working, dryers heat up to dangerous levels if not properly taken care of. Make sure to always clean out the lint trap before and after every use. That’s right — every single use! Don’t forget to also regularly clean the vent that connects the exhaust pipe to the outside, and try not to dry too many bulky items all at once.

How To Prevent House Fires

Besides the individual steps you can take to curb each of the previous causes of home infernos, there are some general tips you can abide by to reduce your risk.

First, you should regularly test all your alarms. The key to stopping one before it spreads is catching it early. On that same note, make sure your extinguishers are in the right location (nearest to the kitchen/laundry room) and not expired.

The last thing you can do is inspect your main gas line and all your heating sources to ensure you’re not sleeping each night in a tinderbox ready to blow.

The Bottom Line

To get any of these inspections performed by professionals, call the experts at IDC Fire and Water Restoration. There’s nothing better you can do for yourself than to have your house checked out by professionals who understand how fires break out.

If you’ve already suffered smoke and heat damage, IDC can fix that too. Call today to get a quote.

What Are The 7 Most Common Causes of House Fires?

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