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Prevent Another Fire: Avoid the Most Common Fire Starters

Prevent Another Fire: Avoid the Most Common Fire Starters blog banner.
Fire starters in the home vary depending on the season, but they do have one thing in common. Of the 360,000 home structure fires reported annually by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), and the billions in damage they cause, most are preventable.

What Are the Main Causes of a Fire?


Leaving pots unattended on the stove while you leave the room momentarily accounts for 40% of home fires, according to the NFPA. Of these, the majority start on the range (57%), mostly due to frying, with a few seen in the oven (16%). Improperly addressing the fire worsens the situation, and results in the most injuries. Never leave stovetop fares unattended. Should it light, never throw water on a grease fire. Use a lid to smother it. Should oven fires flare, simply turn off and leave the door shut until the fire is extinguished. Store a fire extinguisher nearby for emergencies.

Home Heating

Home heating accounts for 16% of home fires, with space heaters the most common culprit, followed by home heating appliances such as chimneys and furnaces. The leading factor with each: Space heaters used to close to flammable items, such as furniture and bedding, and home heating equipment that was improperly maintained, including cleaning.

Electrical & Lighting

From sources ranging from overloaded outlets to misuse of extension cords and equipment malfunction, electrical fire sources are plentiful. Consider an electrical inspection. Avoid overloading circuits, use the right cord for the job, and don’t operate Christmas lights when not at home.

Dryers & Washing Machines

Dryers are involved in a large percentage of appliance fires, however malfunctioning dish and clothes washers also play a role. Clean that lint trap, don’t over-dry – and avoid operation when not at home.


The risk of dying in a smoking-related home fire increases with age, with nearly half of those affected 65 or older. Smoking outside is better for safety (and family health), using wide, sturdy ashtrays for butts and ashes. Never smoke in bed, be careful smoking when tired around flammables or medical oxygen.


Common in December and January, about one-third of candle fires start in bedrooms. Sadly, more than half could have been prevented if candles were simply located farther away from flammable items – a minimum of 12 inches – and placed in sturdy holders. Leaving candles unattended also plays a major role.


Most common in June, July, and August, lightning frequently affects the highest point of a structure. Avoid windows and doors, unplug and avoid the use of electronic equipment and phones, as well as the use of your home’s water sources (showers/baths, sinks) to ensure safety.

Christmas Trees

At their peak in December and January, tree fires send about 230 evergreens up in smoke annually. Always locate trees away from heat sources, turn off lights at night and when you leave, and keep trees watered.

What is the Most Common Cause of House Fires?

One of the most common ways fires start is when cooking. The NFPA identifies cooking equipment as responsible for the largest number of fire-related injuries and deaths nationwide. Heating equipment is the runner-up in incidence, although careless smoking is attributed to more injuries than home heating fires.

What is the Most Common Cause of Businesses Fires?

Businesses suffer preventable fires too. Electricity is a common source of major fires, contributing to 25% of business fires. This includes malfunctioning equipment and wiring. Improper handling of chemicals and combustible materials also contributes to fires in the workplace, as does negligence (not using common sense or following established procedures) and human error (improper/expired fire extinguishers, no water supply/sprinkler system, etc.).

Fire and Smoke Damage Services for Your Home or Business

Knowing common fire starters is a proactive way to ensure you’ll never end up standing amongst the ashes, but it doesn’t ensure complete fire protection. Luckily, Rainbow Restoration® can help restore your world to rights. From life’s little disasters to the big ones.

If you are experiencing an emergency, call Rainbow Restoration's 24/7 emergency service line or schedule an appointment online for commercial and residential fire and smoke damage restoration services.

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