house fire causes

What Are the Common Causes of House Fires?

Is your family adequately protected against the leading causes of house fires?

Fire prevention is important for your loved ones’ safety. Between 2015 and 2019, the National Fire Protection Association estimated that there were almost 350,000 house fires and over 2,500 resulting deaths yearly.

As you can see, you can’t be too careful in avoiding the causes of fires. But what tends to cause house fires in the first place?

That’s what we’ll be looking into here. This article will break down the top causes of fires and fire damage, so you’ll know how to practice better fire prevention in your home. Keep reading to find out more.


Cooking fires are among the most common types of accidental house fires, and it isn’t hard to see why. After all, the kitchen is the only place most of us often interact with open flames. Because of this, we must exercise extreme caution while cooking.

Kitchen fires often start when grease is overheated on the stove or in the oven. When grease gets hot enough, it becomes very flammable and can burst into flames spontaneously. Once grease has caught fire, it can be difficult to put out.

To avoid kitchen fires, you must never leave the kitchen while cooking. This is especially the case when cooking foods that produce grease, such as bacon. Kitchen fires often start because homeowners leave food cooking unattended.

You can extinguish a small grease fire by smothering it with a metal lid. You can also sprinkle baking soda or salt on a grease fire to put it out. It’s also a good idea to keep a class-B or class-K fire extinguisher on hand.

Remember to never use water to put out grease fires. Dumping water on a grease fire will only cause the grease to explode and the fire to spread.

Small kitchen appliances like toasters and griddles can also cause fires. To use them safely, you must never leave them unattended while operating and make sure they’re cool to the touch before putting them away.

Like kitchen fires, accidental fires on decks and exterior walls can be caused by leaving an outdoor grill unattended. You can help avoid this by positioning your grill several feet away from any exterior wall.

Heating Appliances

Space heaters and baseboard heaters can cause fabrics to catch fire if they’re too close together.

Heaters that run on fuel like kerosene are particularly dangerous, as they can catch fire or explode if not supervised. Electrical heaters may catch fire as well if the wiring is faulty.

To prevent fires caused by heating appliances, avoid leaving portable heaters unattended and always follow manufacturer instructions. You should also inspect heaters often to ensure they’re in good condition.


Although candles can be beautiful and sweet-smelling, it isn’t hard to imagine how they can be a big fire hazard. Candles can be knocked over or placed too close to flammable fabrics or other materials, resulting in accidental fires.

Common sense is the key to using candles safely. As with space heaters and cooking appliances, you should never leave a candle burning unattended, especially if you have pets or small children in the house.

Additionally, avoid leaving matches or lighters out where children could find them.


Besides the well-known health impacts of smoking, it can be a big fire hazard, too. This is because cigarette butts and ash can be dropped accidentally onto upholstery, carpeting, clothing, and other flammable surfaces causing fires.

Although cigarettes and smoking account for relatively few house fires, they result in a disproportionately large number of fire-related deaths. A possible reason for this is that these fires often start after individuals fall asleep.

Smoking while lying in bed is particularly dangerous. If you or someone in your household smokes, you should avoid doing it if there’s even the slightest possibility you could fall asleep before safely disposing of the cigarette.

While it’s best to avoid smoking altogether for the sake of your health and that of your family, if you must smoke, you should try to only do it outside. This lowers the fire risk and helps keep smoke and fumes out of your house.

Electrical Faults

Electrical faults in home wiring are a common cause of house fires. Typically, electrical fires occur because loose connections or short circuits cause sparking that ignites building materials. They can also be caused by overloading circuits and overheating wires.

When electrical systems are installed properly, they are very safe and come with multiple protective features built in. Old wiring that hasn’t been replaced or inspected in a long time is much more dangerous.

To avoid electrical fires and protect your home, you should have an electrician perform regular inspections. Above all, avoid doing any electrical repairs yourself if you aren’t a qualified technician.

Protect Yourself Against House Fires Today

Now that you know what the common causes of house fires are, you’ll be better equipped to prevent them. Avoiding fire hazards and installing smoke alarms are two ways to protect your family from accidental fires.

However, even the best precautions can’t prevent all accidents. That’s why, to properly protect your family and property, homeowners insurance is essential.

Central Jersey Insurance Associates provides comprehensive insurance for homes to protect against all manner of damage and disasters. To make sure your home is covered in the event of a fire, contact us for a quote today.