• Brad Keating

Common Causes of Fire in Houses and What You Need to Do to Recover the Damage


Common causes of house fires

When it comes to house fires, there's pretty little you can do when it sparks. It starts small and can spread frighteningly quickly and consume the whole house. When a fire breaks, everyone in the house is in danger, items too.


This can cause an immeasurable financial toll on you. But you can always try to recover some of what you lost in the fire. If you had fire insurance, you could recover some of the items lost when the fire breaks.


Here are some of the causes of house fires and what you can do to recover the damage it brings.


Common Causes of Fire in Houses


There are several causes of fire in houses that you can pick out. Here are some of the most common today:


1. Cooking Related

On the top of your head, you could have picked out cooking-related fires as one of the causes of house fires. Around 49% of all residential fires are cooking-related. One of the common reasons for these fires is overhead grease on the stoves.


The thing about grease is that it is highly flammable when it's overheated. That's when you leave the grease on at about 600º Fahrenheit. When grease reaches that point, it can become combustible even without direct flames.


And when it ignites [grease], the flames are wild and are almost impossible to smoother. There are other causes of cooking-related fires, and they all involve leaving something in the heat for far too long.


How to Prevent

Of course, cooking-related fires can be prevented as much as any other fires. You only need to do a few things right, like not leaving the kitchen unattended. This should be a norm, especially when cooking with oil or cooking foods that produce grease.


When you leave your food unsupervised, you won't know when the fire starts on the stove or in an oven. You can also clean the cookware from time to time to ensure that grease doesn't build there over time.


It would be best to watch out for cookware such as electric griddles and toasters, too, as they can be a source of the fire. Ensure you clean these items before storing them.


The other thing you need to watch out for is outdoor cooking. When cooking outdoors, you need to ensure that you don't have your grill close to anything flammable. Wooden fences are also to be kept at a distance as they can easily catch fire.


2. Smoking

The following common cause for house fires is smoking. Already, you know that smoking is a health risk to anyone who does it – and in many ways. It can cause cancer, among other health risks. But another chance that smoking carries is that it can quickly burn your house.


Smoking requires a flame, and these flames can cause your house to burn. Cigarette butts are the worst, and they are seen as the ones with less danger. When they drop on your carpet, they may end up burning the whole house.


In the US alone, fires caused by cigarette butts alone account for close to 1000 deaths annually. At the same time, the account for close to 3000 injuries occurred, according to the National Fire Protection Association.


Other cigarette materials account for close to 5% of all home fires in the US. These fires caused by cigarette material are the fierce ones, and they account for close to 25% of all deaths by fire. This is the single most common cause of fire deaths in the US.


How to Prevent

The first thing you should do is not smoke at all, but you need to quit smoking while in bed since you may be into it. When you smoke while in bed, you may fall asleep, and the flammables fall on the mattress and ignite a flame.


The other reason is that you may drop your ashtray on the bed, and it will cause a flame. You only need an ashtray to fall on the bed or the carpet or any other piece of clothing for the flame to ignite.


If you can, you should smoke outside the house, or when in the house, you should smoke over a sink. When you smoke at either location, you need to have an ashtray, which will help reduce the fire risk.


3. Electrical Fires

There are close to 51,000 house fires per year that are related to home wiring. And these fires cause close to 500 deaths per year. House fires caused by electrical faults go further to generate around $1.3 billion worth of property damages.


Also, these fires result in around 1400 injuries per year – all the stats are from Electrical Safety Foundation international or EFSi. Most of the fires that happen in this scenario occurred due to short circuits that cause sparks. This can happen due to the overloading of the current.

Those tiny sparks, as they may be, can easily inflame any flammable material around. A thing about these fires is that they usually ignite in a hidden location and quickly build up before people are aware. These fires also tend to happen when you're asleep.


See, when you have overheated the current before going to sleep, the circuit starts arcing, and it takes time before it flames up. That's why the fire, in this case, is likely to happen while you're asleep.


How to Prevent

You need a good electrician to install the right electrical system in your house as this is the only safe way out of these fires. This includes fitting the system with the right protective features. You also need the system to be maintained regularly.


Electrical systems can get old, and the wiring too may be faulty; if not checked early enough, they may cause short circuits. With an old wiring system, it may also be cause for overloading of the electrical setup.


When you live in an old home, you need to ensure that your wiring is checked at least once per year. When moving in, you need to perform various upgrades to the wiring and fit them with the modern ones.


Do not perform your electrical repairs unless you have the know-how to do it. This isn't one of those fun DIYs that you take up. Electricity needs professionals to perform maintenance and various repairs when anything is broken.


4. Candles

Another common cause for the fire has got to be candles. Open flames are nothing to play around with, and that's what candles are. According to the National Fire Protection Association, between 2014 and 2018 alone, there has been an average of 7600 fires.


This number has resulted in around 81 deaths and 667 injuries – during each of those four years alone. When you speak of candle fires, it also includes lighters and matches used to light up those candles. This is particularly dangerous when they are within reach of kids.


Kids don't know what to play with, and when they see something that ignites, it piques their curiosity, and that's what candles and matches are to them. A simple ignition and slip of the match or candles are enough to burn down your entire house.


How to Prevent

The only simple way of preventing these fires is by keeping all inflammables items from kids' reach. It would be best if you were particularly careful during festive seasons. Christmas and New Year are the prime time when it comes to house fires caused by candles.


You also need to ensure that you extinguish all the candles before you leave the room. Another thing is that you need to keep candles away from all ignitable materials. Keep them at least 12 inches away.


When you have kids, you need to be extra careful and use other decorative lights than candles.


How to Recover the Damages of a House Fire

How to recover damages of a house fire

Since fires can occur at any moment, you need to ensure that you have covered your house for fires. The causes above may be the most common for house fires, but they, not the only ones. Other causes of the fires can be wildfires, lighting, and even arson.


When you have insurance cover, you can always claim in the event of a fire. And here's how to do it.


File A Report

After the fire and alert the relevant authorities, you need to seek out your insurance provider and file a report with them. This should be done as early as possible after the fire.


You can then expect a visit from the adjuster to your house. They come to evaluate the extent of the damage caused by the fire – they also assess other related damages. As long as you are safe and uninjured, you need to file the report almost immediately.


Take Photos

You need to have photo evidence, just in case things turn south. Only when it is safe should you enter the house and take photos of the damage. You can also record a video for efficiency.


While you take photos or record videos, you also need to be listing down the items that have been damaged. Ensure you list down personal items and other costly electronic items too that may need replacing.


When you have photo evidence, it will be hard for the insurance to refute your claims to what you owned.


Secure Everything

After the fire, you need to secure the scene as soon as possible. You may still have other things in the house that the fires haven't destroyed, and they need to be safe. Ensure that you cover all holes around the house – this will protect against winds and even burglars.


You can also opt to board the house if you're afraid of looters taking your staff.

Settlements Talks

After everything has been done right, and the insurance adjuster has reviewed the damage, you can expect heat. You need to ensure that all meetings with the adjuster are recorded and official.


For your claim to be binding, insist on written communication as it is organized and recorded. It also can quickly be tabled in a court of law if the need arises due to a communication breakdown.


Another thing you need to take note of during any meeting is the adjuster's attitude – note if there are unreasonable canceled appointments, unreturned calls, and so on. It will give you a clear picture of what to expect.


Should your case go on to trial, you will need all these critical pieces of evidence presented by a fire damage lawyer.


Protect Your Rights


One of the crucial things you can do when you have a fire in your house is getting a lawyer after. When you have insurance, most companies will try to trick their way to not paying the claim – or paying less than the value of the damage.


It would be best to get a lawyer because the other side already has a lawyer on their side. It's pretty unheard of that insurance companies don't have their lawyers in settlement claim meetings.


It would be best to have a lawyer represent you and look out for your interest in the negotiations. A competent fire damage lawyer has been through such cases before and knows what to do about the whole process. Get in touch with the right one to kickstart the process.


The last reason you may need a lawyer to represent you is when you are injured during the fire. When you are incapacitated, you're unable even to file the claim with the insurance company. The lawyer will take up all the evidence of the fire, file the report and discuss with the insurance your settlement.


The lawyer may also know when it is fit to take the case to trial as they know how much you should expect from the insurance.


Conclusion


Fires in houses can happen due to several reasons, and most of them are pretty preventable. It is better to prevent than to try to deal with a fire in most cases. And when it happens, here are some of the ways that you can recover some of the damages caused by the fires.