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Common Causes for House Fires

Despite fireproofing measures, flame-retardant building materials, and smoke alarms, an average of 358,000 house fires occur each year in the U.S. Home structure fires cause 93% of all civilian structure fire-related fatalities and 87% of all fire injuries. Preventing fires in your own home can greatly reduce your risk of suffering serious or fatal burn injuries. Recognizing common causes and how to avoid them can help keep you out of the burn unit in Phoenix.

Smoking in or Near the House

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), smoking was the number one cause of house fire deaths in 2017. Smoking materials, including cigarettes, cigars, and pipes, causes thousands of house fires and hundreds of deaths every year. Smoking and related materials (other than matches and lighters) are dangerous when users don’t put out the flame before tossing them in trashcans or in the yard. They’re also fire hazards if the user falls asleep while holding a lit cigarette or cigar. Furniture, mattresses, bedding, and trashcans are the items that most commonly ignite in smoking-related home fires.

Heating Equipment

Heating equipment was the second-leading cause of house fires and fire injuries in 2017 (and the third-leading cause of fire-related deaths). From 2011 to 2015, firefighters responded to an average of 54,030 home fires relating to heating equipment per year. Heating equipment house fires cause an average of 1,470 injuries, 480 deaths, and $1.1 billion in property damage annually. Misuse of heating equipment and faulty/defective products both contribute to conflagrations in homes. Space heaters are the most common perpetrators for equipment-related house fires, followed by fireplaces, chimneys, and central heat and water heaters.


Cooking doesn’t only pose a high risk for in-home burn injuries; it’s also the cause of thousands of house fires each year. The NFPA reports that firefighters respond to around 170,200 house fires relating to cooking incidents every year. Cooking equipment is involved in almost half (47%) of all house fires in the U.S. Ranges caused the majority (62%) of cooking-related house fires from 2011 to 2015. Unattended cooking equipment caused the most home structure fires and associated civilian deaths and injuries. Always carefully attend ovens, stoves, microwaves, toasters, grills, and fryers when cooking at home.

Electrical Problems

In 2015 (the most recent year data is available), about 6.4% of house fires stemmed from electrical malfunctions. Electrical fires most often occur due to equipment failures or malfunctions creating sparks and igniting nearby items, such as home insulation. The most common pieces of electrical equipment involved in house fires are electrical distribution and power transfer equipment, lighting, heating, ventilation, air condition, kitchen/cooking equipment, and electronics.

Children Playing With Fire

Leaving children unattended in the home with sources of fire or heat, such as range ovens, lighters, matches, or fireworks comes with a high risk for house fires. Never leave children alone with dangerous equipment. Make sure your kids understand the consequences and risks of playing with fire.

Family fire safety efforts could save your home someday – and your lives. Be extra cautious around the items on this list to reduce your risk of becoming a victim of a house fire in Arizona.