Common House Fire Causes: What You Need to Know

Whether you’re a homeowner living in your own property or a landlord renting to a tenant, the last thing you want to happen is a house fire. Unfortunately, though, fires in homes arise thousands of times each year across the country. When one examines the causes of these fires, most of the time they’re due to the same types of triggers. Here are some of the most common house fire causes that you need to be aware of today.

Photo of a house on fire

Electrical Equipment

When you hear about house fires on the news, you’ll notice that many of them are attributed to faulty or otherwise dangerous electrical equipment. With homes having so many plugged-in devices these days, it’s no wonder that some of them create power surges or sparks and lead to fires.

It’s important to understand key electrical safety tips for your home, such as those listed on Protect yourself by inspecting electrical equipment each year for frays, faults, and other potential issues. Throw out any appliance you can’t fix effectively and replace worn or damaged power cords before using them again. Don’t overload extension cords or wall sockets, either.

Faulty Wiring

When buying a home, most buyers will hire a home inspector. Their report will cover many things including faulty wiring, which can lead to a house fire. This is most often the case in older homes with bad, outdated internal wiring, but can sometimes occur in newer properties, too. A good way to pick up on issues is to pay attention to dimming lights in your house when you plug in extra pieces of equipment. Alternatively, if fuses or circuit breakers blow frequently, this is a sign your wiring needs attention. Always hire an electrician to inspect and replace risky wires.


If you’re a keen cook who likes to spend time in the kitchen, you’ve probably never thought much about fires starting in this room of the house since you’re confident with your skills. Yet, cooking is one of the primary house fire causes every year. Why? Because people leave pots and pans unattended for too long. Or, because hot cooking oil splatters flammable materials in the room.

Stay safe by never leaving the room when using cooking equipment. Place lids on spitting pans. Wear closely-fitted sleeves that can’t catch alight easily when you’re cooking. Also, don’t use kitchen equipment when you’re drunk, have taken medicine or drugs that could make you drowsy or impair your judgment, or when you’re otherwise sleepy.

Heating Sources

During winter, it’s natural to use one or more heating sources in your homes, such as wood stoves, fireplaces, radiant heaters, fan heaters, column heaters, and other options. While in most cases this is fine, sadly some house fires start due to these devices. Portable space heaters, in particular, are often a problem.

When you use these products, situate them in well-ventilated areas and keep them well away from combustible materials like furniture, drapes, and clothing. The heaters you use should have an automatic shut-off feature and thermostat control, as these factors increase safety. Also, when it comes to fireplaces and wood stoves, place a spark screen or glass door over the front of the heating sources to help prevent sparks from exiting.


Another big cause of house fires is candles. While these accessories smell lovely, add a great ambiance to a room, and can help you to relax, they may also lead to horrible consequences if you go to sleep while they’re still burning. Prevent a catastrophe by using candles in a smart way. Monitor them at all times and place them on level surfaces and in sturdy holders. Keep them well away from combustible material and don’t let children or pets too close.

Kids Playing with Matches

Photo of a match on fire

One of the most tragic house fire causes is kids playing with matches. You must teach yours early on about the dangers of playing with matches. Many kids become fascinated by fire and want to play with matches, which often leads to house fires.

Apart from educating children on the risks, consider also locking up relevant items in a safe place. They should be stored somewhere kids can’t get to them, especially when you’re out and children are home alone.

The idea of having your house partially or completely burn down due to a fire and losing not only your possessions but also potentially your pets, family, and even your own life is something that can make your skin crawl. However, by taking a few safety precautions you will more effectively protect yourself and all your loved ones.

Tre Pryor, Realtor

Tre Pryor is the leading real estate expert in the city of Louisville. He is a multi-million dollar producer and consistently ranks in the top 1% of Louisville Realtors for homes sold. Tre Pryor has the highest possible rating—5.0 stars on Google—by his clients and is routinely interviewed by the local NBC news. Tre Pryor is a member of the RE/MAX Hall of Fame.