5 Leading Causes of House Fires

Every year, close to 360,000 house fires start, killing almost 3,000 people and causing catastrophic injuries for thousands more. These fires are devastating, but the good news is that most of them are preventable. So what are the most common causes of house fires, and what can you do to keep them from starting?

Cooking equipment, electrical wiring, heating systems, smoking, and arson are the five leading causes of house fires in the United States. Read on to learn more about each of these causes and how you can head them off.

Cooking Equipment

It may not surprise you to learn that cooking equipment is one of the leading causes of house fires. The kitchen has not only a lot of heating elements, but also lots of flammable materials next to those heating elements. Things like kitchen towels, food packaging, and even food itself can catch on fire if left unattended.

The best way to prevent kitchen fires is to always keep an sharp eye on what you’re cooking. Keep flammable materials away from stoves and toaster ovens, and never leave a hot oven unattended. It’s also a good idea to install smoke detectors and fire extinguishers in your kitchen.

Electrical Wiring

In some cases, the cause of a house fire could be lurking in your walls. Faulty electrical wiring can cause arcs, flashes of electrical energy that can ignite insulation, framing, and sheetrock. Worst of all, you may not even know these fires have happened until it’s too late to prevent major damage.

It’s always best to have a qualified electrician do any work on your wiring to avoid dangerous mistakes. When you buy a new home, make sure to have a thorough inspection done to make sure no faulty wiring is already in place. And if you buy an older home, make sure any knob and tube wiring is removed.

Heating Systems

Other than your wiring, your heating systems are the next major risk for starting fires in your home. Faulty heating systems can cause many of the same problems as faulty wiring, and unfortunately, they also have some of the same problems as your kitchen. Blankets, pillows, and drapes set too close to fireplaces and heaters can ignite.

It’s best practice to get your heating systems inspected every year to make sure they’re still in good working order. Always keep flammable materials away from heat sources. And never plug space heaters or electric blankets into power strips – they can overheat, melt, and catch fire.


Unfortunately, one of the biggest causes of house fire is smoking indoors. Smoking in bed is especially dangerous, since you can fall asleep and wind up igniting the covers. In fact, smoking is the leading cause of house fire deaths in the United States, killing more than 500 people each year. 

The good news is that this cause of house fires is perhaps the easiest to avoid. Always avoid smoking indoors, and never, under any circumstances, smoke in bed. If you must smoke indoors, always make sure your cigarettes are completely out before discarding the butts.


The last leading cause of house fires is one you might not expect: arson. Every year, more than 230,000 house fires are set on purpose. 

Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do to prevent these fires. Always keep matches and lighters stored away and out of the reach of children.

Get Compensation for Your Injuries

House fires injure and kill thousands of people every year. The good news is that many of these house fires are preventable with the proper safety precautions. Never leave cooking pans unattended, and always have your electrical work done by a licensed professional. Have your heating systems inspected annually, never smoke indoors, and keep matches and lighters locked carefully away.

If you’ve been injured in a house fire, the premises liability lawyers at Bradley Law want to help. We have more than thirty years of experience, and we’ve recovered more than $70 million dollars for our clients. Schedule a free consultation with us today and start getting the representation you deserve.

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