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How do most home fires start?

The good news is that the number of house fires in the UK is declining. The not-so-good news is that a significant number of home fires are preventable.

Despite the fact that there were fewer home fires than ever before, the number is nevertheless high – the Home Office statistics for 2018-19 recording 36,283 dwelling fires. A house fire can have a disastrous impact on a property, not to mention the potential for injuries.

Fortunately, the vast majority of house fires can be avoided if proper fire safety precautions are taken at home.

The most common causes of house fires in the UK

Cooking appliance fires

Cooking appliances are the most common cause of home fires by a mile. Cooking appliances caused almost half (46%), or 2340 incidents in 2018/19. Common sources of ignition include:

  • Cookers & ovens
  • Rings & hot plates
  • Grills & toasters

Electrical distribution fires 

Electrical distribution accounts for 2,962 or 12% of accidental house fires and 6% of deaths. Common sources include:

  • Wiring, cabling & plugs
  • Apparatus, batteries & generators
  • Heating equipment

Domestic appliance fires

Other household appliances (not including cooking appliances or heating equipment) account for 2,152 fires, or 9% of fires and 5% of deaths. Common sources of ignition include:

  • Dishwashers
  • Extractor fans
  • Fridge/Freezers
  • Tumble dryers
  • Washing machines

Smoking-related fires

Smoking materials including cigarette lighters account for 2,115, or around 9% of fires and 34% of deaths – the highest of all sources.

Matches and candle fires

Matches and candles account for 1,032 fires, around 4% of fires and 4% of deaths.

Space heating appliance fires

House and space heating appliances account for 3% (784) of house fires and 11% of deaths. Common sources of ignition include:

  • Patio heating equipment
  • Heaters & fires
  • Other heating equipment

Electric lighting fires

Electrical lighting accounts for 438, or 2% of house fires. Common sources of ignition include:

  • Fairy lights
  • Fluorescent lights
  • Spot lights
  • Incandescent light bulbs

Preventing cooking fires

  • Don’t let leads from other appliances like toasters or kettles trail across the cooker 
  • Never dry towels on, or near, the cooker. 
  • Don’t let fat and grease build up on or in the cooker, especially in the grill pan where it can easily catch fire. 
  • Make sure that you turn the cooker off when you have finished using it.

Stay aware of faulty appliances

Don’t disregard warning indications such as components of the appliance becoming unusually hot (particularly washing machine doors), or cables, leads, or sockets that look unsafe because the most likely cause of a washing machine or TV catching fire is that the appliance is broken (blackened or with the inner wiring exposed). Always seek the advice of a licensed electrician if an electrical device is acting in any manner unusually.

Get expert fire prevention advice

At Blue Light Safety we are an independent company offering a complete solution for all aspects of fire safety. Over 80% of Blue Light’s operatives have a fire service background, making for a team with a wealth of fire safety knowledge and experience. 
For advice on fire prevention in your home contact the team at Blue Light Safety – call us on 0330 3530053 or 0207 1993180, alternatively you can reach us by email

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