Most Common Causes Of House Fires

There are many things that can cause fires. Some of the items you can be more careful to prevent, and some are accidental and can happen without notice. A house or building can catch fire from heating equipment to smoking in your home, to the misuse of appliances and heating equipment.

Homeowners can take preventative measures to avoid a home fire in order to protect the safety of their families. Here is a list of some of the most common causes of house fires, along with some precautionary tips to prevent them.

1. Smoking in Homes

The best way to eliminate the risk of fire from smoking cigarettes, or marijuana, or anything else you may smoke is to not smoke in the house at all. Bedrooms can be one of the most common areas in a home where fires can be caused by smoking, so if you must smoke at home, it would be best if you do not smoke in your bedroom. This is commonplace for someone to get tired and fall asleep with a burning cigarette.  A cigarette or marijuana joint that is not put out properly can cause a fire or flame. A cigarette, specifically as the cigarette butt may stay alit for a few hours they can be dangerous well into your sleep. It could and will based on statistics in some people’s homes burst into flames if it came into contact with flammable materials, such as bedding, a bed, carpet, or furniture. Statistics have shown that fires from smoking in a home can be as high as 75% of the cause of all house fires.

2. Cooking equipment and Cooking Appliances

Pots, woks, frying pans, and normal cooking pans can get extremely hot and overheat and can cause fire easily if the person cooking is not paying attention or gets distracted and leaves cooking unattended. This also may be another good reason to not smoke marijuana or to be drinking heavily before deciding to engage in cooking. Always stay in the kitchen, or ask someone that is home to keep an eye on the stove and the food you are cooking. Hotplates are banned in most US colleges but our recommendation is to not use them in any home either. Let’s not forget cooking appliances and stoves, especially gas stoves can be dangerous as well. Gas ovens are also not to be taken lightly. Cooking with oils and greasy substances or greasy foods can be dangerous items that can spark extremely dangerous flames and oil fires are not as easily put out. Keep a fire extinguisher near your stove. A good place to store one is under the sink and make sure you have a smoke detector nearby.

2. Electric Heaters and Heating Devices in General.

Keep portable electric heaters at least two feet away from anything flammable—especially items such as curtains, cloth products, laundry, clothes, furniture, and even yourself. And if you have electric floor heaters as some older homes have and some many homes still have in the northern United States teach your kids about the dangers of putting things near them and have them inspected once a year by a professional. It’s never a good idea to use a generator in a home if you lose power. As the gases from running, one can be toxic and severely dangerous.

4. Electrical Wiring and Electrical Equipment-Lightning Strikes

Have you ever had an insulation wiring test done on the electric wires in the walls, attics, and sometimes floors of your home? There is a special test for checking these wires and its called a Megohm Test. Did you know that some older homes still have the original wiring that was not meant for today’s high voltage appliances and they still have cloth wiring surrounding the copper wires that can heat up very fast? Some of these wires can even be stapled behind the walls to wood studs or other wood objects. All electrical appliances, such as an electric fryer, or toaster can start a fire if it has a frayed or faulty cord. Did you buy your house new or old? Do you know if your home was ever struck by lightning?  An outlet that is overloaded with too many cords or adapter plugs can cause a fire from the use of to much electricity. It is always a good idea to have a master electrician check out your home regularly or if you have severe concerns have a full megohm test performed by an expert electrician or electrical engineer. If you have a power surge or lightning strike or even water damage that has or possibly could have effected your electrical you should when filing an insurance claim require your insurance company to perform a full inspection of all your appliances and test the wiring from the panel and every circuit in your home. Keep your eye out for dimming lights, blown or tripped circuit breakers.

5. Candles- Can Candles Burn My House Down? Yes

No one is going to tell you that candles do not look and smell pretty. They do make air fresheners now and battery-operated candles if you want to eliminate this risk. If you insist on using candles then do not use them unattended or while intoxicated or tired as they can cause a spark a fire and burn down your home. Please place candles in strategic places away from any flammable items such as paper, fabrics, clothes, books, etc. Always blow your candles out when leaving the room. People may ask, “How many fires were started by candles?” The answer is one is too many.

6. Children and access to flammable items.

Kids can cause a fire just because they do not know how to use a stove, or appliance, or just out of curiosity. They may want to just see what would happen by playing with matches, lighters, and other flammable items. It would be wise to keep lighters and matches out of reach of young children.  Install a smoke alarm in all the required rooms in your home especially in your child’s room. Design a fire safety plan with a planned escape route and practice a home escape plan with your family. Nothing wrong with being prepared for an emergency. Educate your children on the dangers of playing with fire and what to expect if they do. And what they should do if one occurs suddenly.

7. Barbeques

Barbeques are used frequently for outdoor gatherings and for a great outdoor cooked meal. They should never be used inside a home or on a balcony and it would be wise to always use them a good distance away from the home. This does not mean place a gas grill underneath a tree either. Please use some common sense. If you use a gas grill always check for leaks and if you smell something that could be gas take the proper precautions.

8. Flammable liquids

Where should you put flammable liquids? The best answer is not in your home. But if you do have flammable liquids in the home or garage such as methylated spirits, gasoline, kerosene, or moonshine make sure to keep them away from any type of heat source or anything that can cause a spark, and check the label before storing. And I am sure many of you have seen television shows and movies, so do not cook meth in your house as I have seen it blow up houses. Not to mention its illegal in the United States and just overall there is nothing good to be said about it. If this has crossed your mind, please get some help!


If you do happen to suffer a loss from one of these common causes for a fire you will need the help of an experienced public adjuster to make sure you get paid fairly and treated fairly from your insurance carrier and after you call 911 to make sure the proper authorities get out to your home it would be a good idea to call us next! We will review your insurance policy and document all the damages and work with the insurance company on your behalf to fight for the payment you deserve to restore your home and personal contents damaged from the fire and smoke.