Most Common Causes of House Fires and Their Prevention

 Cooking accidents, heaters, and intentionally lit fires are the top three most common causes of house fires. According to recent statistics each year 27% of the fires that are reported have occurred in homes and moreover 79% of fire deaths and 73% of reported fire injuries are caused by house fires. In this article, we will discuss the most common causes of house fires and how you can prevent them. 

The best prevention in case of a fire is a smoke detector, check out the types, and also the proper placement of fire alarms in this guide. Also, be sure to check out our other fire safety related articles at

Most common causes of house fires:

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1. Cooking accidents:

most common causes of house fires

About 48% of the total house fires are caused by cooking accidents which makes them the most common cause of house fires. Kitchens are also the place where house fires usually start.


Greases that become overheated often cause fires. This usually happens when people leave the kitchen unattended while cooking in oil or cooking something that produces a lot of greases.

Greases can be highly flammable when overheated. Fires which originate from greasy substances are not easy to handle

So how can you prevent such a disaster? Well here’s how. Clean your kitchen and your appliances daily and make sure to let them cool down completely before storing them again

Be certain that your stove is clean and does not have grease on it before using it. These simple interventions will help you avoid a lot of damage. In case of emergency use baking soda or a fire extinguisher to put out the fire.  Water will only cause the grease to spread and will feed the flames. 

Electrical appliances:

Cooking fires can also be caused by electrical cooking appliances such as toasters or blenders. Sometimes crumbs get stuck in the bottom of machines that burn and hence cause them to short-circuit. 

When it comes to kitchen appliances ovens, stoves, toasters, blenders, and almost every other cooking range appliance are the most common cause of housefires. So make sure to be extra careful when using these machines.

Even though house fires are caused by multiple reasons you can also prevent them by just being a bit careful around them.


Heated grills next to a wooden fence can cause a lot of damage. They can burn down the walls of a house which, as you can imagine, can cause huge fires. If in any case, the fire gets out of hand do not try to control it yourself, instead, call the fire department.

2. Heaters:


main causes of house fires

Through research, we have learned that around 52,050 house fires are caused by heaters which makes it one of the most common causes of house fires and this is only in the USA. Heaters used in homes can cause fires when fabrics or other flammable substances are left near them. Around 15% of house fires are caused by heating appliances.

Heaters that use oil:

Heaters that use an oil like kerosene are especially dangerous as they can catch fire or blow up if left unsupervised. They can also cause the flammable materials in the house to catch fire

To prevent fires such an occurrence from happening, make sure to never leave any type of flammable substances near heaters and also read the instructions that come with them. Kerosene heaters are one of the leading causes of house fires so be extra careful when around them.

Electrical heaters:

Heaters that use electricity can cause fires if they malfunction or if there is a problem in the wiring. They can also cause combustible materials to catch fire so make sure they are not left unsupervised. 

Space heaters:

These heaters are used to heat small spaces such as bedrooms and hence are sometimes placed near a bed or a curtain and are close to fabrics this also leads to house fires. Space heaters always have instructions regarding unsupervised use make sure to strictly follow them when using heaters.

3. Intentionally lit fires:

common causes of house fires

Intentionally lit fires are not always done on purpose to cause harm to the house or the people in it. But mostly they are lit for fun and they get out of control. This is the third most common cause of house fires as each year 31,301 house fires are caused by intentionally lit fires. Recent studies also suggest that approximately 84% of wildfires are caused by humans.

Fires lit for fun:

Some of the fires are usually lit just out of curiosity where a person just likes to play with fire. They are also lit to burn trash. Fires are also lit at parties for fireworks but these fires can cause a lot of destruction and harm to the house and the people in it. To prevent such accidents from happening, never let children use fire without guidance or supervision.  

Fires lit to cause harm:

Not most of them but some of these fires are also lit to cause intentional harm or just for bad reasons for example to burn evidence or commit insurance fraud.

4. Fires caused by electricity:

biggest cause of house fires

Fires caused by electricity destroy property worth 1.3 billion dollars on a yearly basis which makes electrical fires the 4th most common cause of house fires in or list and among the most costly.

Electrical fires are mostly caused by short circuits or sparks that lead to the burning of building materials and hence cause house fires. Now fires caused by electricity may be 4th on the list of most common causes of house fires but these fires are the most harmful since most deaths are caused by electrical fires.

These fires are very hard to put out but the reason they are the most lethal is that they are usually located very late and can’t be controlled by then and even worse they may ignite when residents are sleeping.

To prevent such types of fires, the electrical system should be properly installed especially if you live in an old house. Make sure to switch off any electrical switch which is not in use.

Don’t try to repair electrical switches or even machines yourself, always ask a professional to do so unless and until you know exactly what you are doing and also have experience with it.

5. Cigarettes:

how common are house fires

Cigarettes are also one of the most common causes of house fires. Like electrical fires, fires caused by cigarettes are also very deadly as they are hard to discover and usually ignite when homeowners are asleep. Cigarettes not only cause extremely dangerous fires but are also very harmful to your health.

These fires usually need a single bottom of a cigarette to ignite and are very hard to control. Cigarettes can easily burn carpets, rugs, curtains, and every other flammable material in your house. You should under no circumstances smoke in bed. It is preferable to smoke outside.

These fires are mostly caused when cigarettes are not extinguished properly, so as a preventive measure make sure that you burn them down completely and throw them away. Cigarette related house fires usually start at the balcony, the patio, and the bedroom.

6. Candles:

how many candles have started house fires

Candles cause over 8,200 house fires. 80 deaths, and 770 injuries each year which make it 6th on our list of most common causes of house fires.

These fires are very easily ignited and are difficult to put out. Moreover, matches that are used to light candles are equally dangerous. 

Make sure to store them properly and keep them out of children’s reach. House fires caused by candles mostly happen at Christmas and New Year’s Eve since they are used to decorate houses so be extra careful around these times.

Never leave a lit candle unsupervised and make sure to keep them at least 12 inches away from any flammable substance. Try to decorate your house with lights or electrical candles rather than wax candles. Use flashlights rather than candles during blackouts.

7. Chemical fires:

causes of house fires statistics

Chemical fires of many types are the cause of approximately 14,000 house fires which makes it the 7th most common cause of house fires.

Fires caused by spontaneous combustion and volatile vapors:

Chemical fires are usually caused by volatile vapors of gasoline or other petroleum-based liquids. Another reason for chemical fires is spontaneous combustion which is caused by vapors of different chemicals combining with oxygen in the air until they reach a certain temperature and ignite.

Now the reason these types of fires are dangerous is that they are very unexpected and can cause a great deal of damage.

To prevent these kinds of accidents make sure to store any kind chemicals in their containers, don’t completely fill the containers and keep them away from any kind of flammable substances. Preferably in a separate closet.

Dirty rags:

Now sometimes heat generated in oily rags causes spontaneous combustion. Never leave them uncleaned, spread them outdoors until the oil completely evaporates and then bring them inside for washing and reusing them.

Never leave these types of rags to pile up on each other. Don’t leave any type of oil or petroleum liquids near a stove, always be sure to store them away properly where heat can’t reach them. Keep products that are used to generate heat out of reach so they cannot be misused.

8. Hot work:


household fires statistics

The power tools that are used to do hot work include soldering, welding, and hot torches. These tools are very useful but if they are not handled properly they can cause very dangerous house fires. Most fires that are related to power tools happen in construction sites or factories but over 2000 house fires are also caused by power tools.

These fires usually occur when power tools are used near flammable materials. A large number of house fires are also caused by the malfunction of such tools.

To prevent such types of fires ask a professional to handle such tools and don’t try to fix them yourself unless you have experience with them. Fires caused by power tools are the 8th most common cause of house fires in the world and the 6th most common cause of house fires in the USA.

9. Laundry Appliances:


leading cause of house fires dryer

Laundry appliances are also one of the most common causes of house fires but the good news is that these fires are not very lethal they can be extinguished quite easily. 

Mostly the fires caused by laundry appliances are because of the dryer in washing machines. It produces heat to dry the clothes but it can also ignite clothes made of flammable materials such as lint and fiber.

To prevent these kinds of fires make sure to supervise the drying process. Keep a fire extinguisher in your laundry room at all times.

10. Christmas trees:

living room fires

Fires caused by christmas trees are 10th on our list of the most common causes of house fires but these can accelerate very quickly.

Christmas trees are a holiday tradition for many people but they can also become a fire hazard if they are not used properly. Sometimes trees get dry and are able to ignite with even a hot light. These types of fires are very fast and can engulf the entire room causing a great amount of damage.

Try to use artificial trees and led lights. Buy new lights every year but if you don’t want to make sure that they don’t have any faulty wirings. Never leave the lights on when you are going outside the house.

Where do house fires usually start?

where do most home fires start

The most common places where house fires start are 


The kitchen is the most commonplace for house fires to ignite since mostly cooking accidents happen in the kitchen and oils and other combustible liquids are also present in the kitchen. 


House fires that usually start in bedrooms accelerate very quickly as bed sheets, curtains, carpets, and other flammable fabrics are also present there. The most common causes of house fires in our list also take place in bedrooms.

3.Living rooms:

Fires that originate from living rooms are mostly intentionally lit such as fireplaces or are ignited by faulty electrical switches.

4.Balconies and attics:

These fires also accelerate quickly since they start in small spaces and can go undetected.

5. Backyards:

House fires that start from backyards are also mostly intentional such as fires lit to burn trash or at parties.


After researching the top most common causes of house fires, we have come to the conclusion that the leading fire accidents start with ordinary and small accidents which can lead to a great deal of damage.

If we take simple measures we can easily prevent such accidents. Make sure to handle electrical equipment with extra care, always ask for professional help when dealing with power tools, keep flammable materials away from heat sources. 

Keep children away from fire and follow the preventions given above in the article to reduce the risk of such fires. Also, read instructions that come with combustible materials and make sure to follow fire hazards and keep at least one fire extinguisher in your house at all times. 


Q1) What appliances cause the most fires?

The appliances which cause the most fires usually include washing machines, tumble dryers, dishwashers, cookers, fridges, freezers, central heaters and rosters are the top 8 appliances that cause house fires.

Q2) What is the leading cause of house fire?

The leading cause of house fires is cooking fires.

Q3) Where do house fires start?

House fires usually start in the kitchen.


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