The frequency and costs associated with fires highlight the need to understand the major causes of home fires. With residential fires occurring every 88 seconds, it is important to identify risks early to prevent significant losses. In observance of Fire Prevention Week, Thorp & Trainer Insurance is sharing the 10 most common causes of home fires.

“Ever since organizations in the U.S. began tracking structure fires, we have been able to provide better suggestions to help prevent fire-related accidents,” said Howard Thorp, President of Thorp & Trainer Insurance. “We are hopeful that homeowners will be able to use these insights to help keep their families safe.”

According to the Insurance Information Institute, structure fires are more likely to occur on residential properties. While it is challenging to list every leading cause of home fires, certain causes are more likely to occur, the U.S. Fire Administration reports.

Here is the list of the 10 most common causes of home fires, and how to avoid them:

Distracted Cooking 

Unattended cooking is the leading cause of home fires. Fires are more likely to occur around Thanksgiving and Christmas when hosts are busy entertaining guests.

Heating Equipment

Homeowners fire up their heating equipment every year without performing regularly scheduled maintenance. It is typically recommended to schedule an inspection of furnaces and boilers every year.


Hosting a barbeque can be dangerous if homeowners don’t understand basic safety precautions when using a grill. Flare ups, the placement of the grill, and improper propane maintenance could all lead to a home fire.

Inadequate Wiring

Electrical fires are among the top causes of residential fires, especially during the winter. As the days get colder, families may not realize that equipment like space heaters should never be connected to extension cords, which can catch on fire from being used improperly.

Electrical Equipment

Not to be confused with inadequate wiring, electrical equipment fires are usually referring to incidents where damaged wires cause sparks. Homeowners should always check the condition of cords. 

Careless Smoking 

While the prevalence of careless smoking has declined because less people smoke, cigarette butts are known to cause fires. Having an ashtray handy for guests to sit outside could help you prevent a fire.


With Halloween around the corner, homeowners should consider safer alternatives to lighting Jack-O-Lanterns. Homeowners should also be mindful of candles that are lit during other festive holidays.

Flammable Liquids

Turpentine and paint thinners are just a few of the flammable liquids that can easily cause a fire. Many DIY homeowners may not know how to properly handle these substances during projects, which could lead to a fire.

Christmas Light Decorations

If Christmas trees are not regularly watered, they can become dry and ignite from the heat generated from decorations. Fire safety experts always recommend that homeowners remove trees from their home as soon as the holiday is over.

Children Playing with Fire

Children may accidently cause a home fire because of their curiosity with flames. To help prevent this from happening, homeowners are encouraged to keep lighters and matches out of reach. As an added measure, homeowners can secure stove handles.

Understanding the common causes of fires can help homeowners identify and address potential risks for fires. As we head into the colder season, Thorp & Trainer Insurance encourages homeowners to be mindful of these hazards to help keep your family members and guests safe. If you have questions about your insurance policy, we encourage you to speak with one of our insurance agents at (401) 596-0146.