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A three year average study by the U.S. Fire Administration determined the following causes of fatal residential fires:

  • Smoking: 24%
  • Arson: 20%
  • Heating: 13%
  • Cooking: 11%
  • Electrical problem: 9%
  • Open flame: 7%
  • Children playing: 7%
  • Other causes: 9%

Where home fires start

Most fatal fires start either in the sleeping area of the house or the lounge, followed closely by the kitchen area, followed up by all other areas of the house. Smoking contributes to a large amount of the fires that occur in the sleeping area, along with heated blankets, space heaters, or other portable electric devices that are used to heat a bedroom.

Around 30% of house fires start in the kitchen. Stove burners accidentally left burning, or flash fires starting while cooking – often when an item is left unattended on the stove – ignite the majority of these blazes. The garage is another potential hot spot, where electronic tools and gasoline or other flammable chemicals are often stored. Beyond that, all areas of your home are at relatively equal risk.

Other facts and statistics about how fires start:

  • Fires caused by home electrical problems cost about 1.4 billion per year in property damage.
  • About 3 out of 4 Americans use extension cords as permanent plugs, according to the Electrical Safety Foundation International. Because these are often tucked under chairs and tables, the cord’s casing is often frayed and these outlets are prone to short-circuiting.
  • 50% of people who use fireplaces don’t clean them at least once a year, which allows a flammable buildup in chimneys that can lead to ignition.
  • According to the US Fire Administration, almost 1000 smokers and non-smokers die annually in home fires caused by cigarettes or other smoking products.
  • Space heaters cause approximately 20,000 home fires and 400 fire related deaths in the US every year.


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