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Devastating House Fires on the Rise: Tips on Fire Causes and Prevention Video and Photos

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Wintertime Brings More House Fires

The wintertime hosts more house fires than any other time of the year. Often times multiple houses are destroyed when one catches fire. The video above shows a sad situation where 12 families were displaced in just a few hours. This fire occurred on Friday the 13th, and the wind gusts which were up to 60 miles per hour, destroyed this home in less than 2 hours. This particular fire is being investigated as a deliberate arson but we will explore ways to prevent natural fires from occurring.

The biggest reason for an increase in house fires is because of fact that people are using equipment to heat their homes. Often times the equipment is old and faulty and problems arise. Another factor is that many people can not afford the heating oil or gas and so they resort to improvised methods for staying warm. Many of these improvised heating methods are very dangerous.

Let's look at a few things you should never do to try to heat your home or apartment:

  • Using your Oven to heat a house. Using a gas stove or oven to heat a home is dangerous. Deadly chemicals such as Carbon Monoxide can kill you.
  • Using things like Camping Stoves are dangerous and can start fires.
  • Never, Ever Use Open Flame in a house. This may sound like common sense but many people light small fires to keep warm, thinking if they open a window they are OK. Open flames in houses can cause smoke inhalation problems and the fire can spread by burning embers.
  • Never leave Candles Unattended! They can overheat and explode causing a fire.
  • Don't Smoke in your Bed!. Many people fall asleep while smoking and can set their bed on fire. This historically was a leading cause of devastating house fires.
  • Don't use Old Portable Electrical Heaters! They have a tendency to short out and cause electrical fires. Also, they may not have an automatic emergency shut off when they tip over. Using old electrical heating elements causes a lot of house fires.
  • Never Burn a Fire in and Old Uninspected Fireplace! Fires can start in the chimney and spread throughout the House. Chimneys should be inspected by professionals every You should use Creosote logs to clean out your chimney at the beginning of every winter season.
  • Never leave your Christmas Tree Lights On when you are Sleeping or Not at Home! Christmas tree fires are on the rise.
  • Use Caution when Cooking! Every kitchen should have a proper fire extinguisher. Oil fires are the most dangerous because water spreads them out instead of extinguishing them.

House Fires are Devastating Any Time Of Year

Be sure to have a fire prevention plan in place for your family. Practice your plan at least once per month.

Be sure to have a fire prevention plan in place for your family. Practice your plan at least once per month.

Are You Safe?

For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. Do You Take Fire Prevention Seriously?
    • Yes, I am aware and take preventative steps to be safe from fire!
    • This will never happen to me!

Answer Key

  1. Yes, I am aware and take preventative steps to be safe from fire!

Things You Can Do to Prevent House Fires

  • Clean and Inspect Heating Sources. Contact a professional to do an inspection at least once every 5 years.
  • Avoid using dangerous heating methods as mentioned above.
  • Clean and Inspect Fireplace and Chimney every 3-5 years.
  • Be Conscious of Electrical Appliances and unplug them when not in use.
  • Use Common Sense!
  • Use Caution While Cooking!
  • Keep a Fire Extinguisher with proper rating in your kitchen.
  • Never BBQ Indoors
  • Install and Maintain Smoke Alarms and Detectors. Batteries should be changed at least once per year.
  • Have an Escape Plan! Families that have an escape plan, are aware of fire hazards and places to exit are more likely to survive in a real fire.

Fires devastate many people and families every year. There is a rise every time it gets cold and the majority of house fires can be prevented and occur due to human error and carelessness. Don't become a statistic! Protect yourself. If you think something may be dangerous or a fire hazard, call a professional and get it inspected! Your life and property are worth it!

  • American Red Cross:
    The American Red Cross helps prepare communities for emergencies and keep people safe every day thanks to caring people who support our work. Please support your local Red Cross.


JS Matthew (author) from Massachusetts, USA on March 13, 2013:

Hello tirelesstraveler! Wow, that was a close call! I recently moved and my new fire/smoke detectors are also hardwired. They are very sensitive (which is a good thing although a pain as well...) and my wife often sets them off while cooking. They are loud and yell, "Fire!, Fire!" but I am glad just in case they need to save my life someday. Thanks for sharing your experience!


Judy Specht from California on March 10, 2013:

Fires are awesome when in the right places. Woke up to a sound nobody recognized about a month ago. We had left a candle burning on the counter and the wax caught fire. It triggered the smoke detector that was hardwired , which had always tested good, but never sounded in 14 years. Most people don't know that wax is highly flammable and a spectacular fire started. L.L.Bean used to sell little candles for use in your fireplace.

JS Matthew (author) from Massachusetts, USA on February 18, 2012:

Scroll to Continue

Hello Trsmd! This is a "Video Hub" which is coming out to all Hubbers very soon. I am a beta tester and yes, the video starts automatically when you open the page. Check out this for more info on Video Hubs:

I am not sure when this will be released site-wide but I know it won't be too long from now. There is really no difference from regular Hubs except that we can upload our own videos directly to HubPages instead of having to go through another site like YouTube. This is great for us because it is another way to generate revenue!

I appreciate you stopping by! Thanks for the comment.


Trsmd from India on February 18, 2012:

Mathew, this page is called as Hub or Video. In the link I am seein as video, hope the page starts with video, is it correct? Thanks for sharing:)

JS Matthew (author) from Massachusetts, USA on January 28, 2012:

Thanks whoisbid! I'm trying!


whoisbid on January 28, 2012:

Wow your skills are improving

JS Matthew (author) from Massachusetts, USA on January 23, 2012:

@MsDora: I hope this article does get people thinking and checking their environment for fire safety especially the batteries in their smoke detectors! Thanks for your comment!


JS Matthew (author) from Massachusetts, USA on January 23, 2012:

@Millionaire Tips: Yes, this video motivated me to make sure I was being safe! Thanks for stopping by!


JS Matthew (author) from Massachusetts, USA on January 23, 2012:

@wmhseo: You're welcome! Thank you for your comment!


JS Matthew (author) from Massachusetts, USA on January 23, 2012:

@AEvans: It is very scary to watch! I happened to be in this particular area and saw the smoke so I started taking video (after calling 911!). I could feel the heat from yards away. It went down fast in the wind. I am so glad that no one was hurt. According to the American Red Cross there is an average of 200 homes destroyed everyday by fires! That's a lot of people displaced! Smoke detectors are one of the best survival tools when a fire occurs. The only thing more important than the detectors themselves are the batteries inside them! Many people neglect to change them regularly. It is such a minor thing to overlook yet can have huge consequences! Thanks for your comment! I appreciate you stopping by!


Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on January 23, 2012:

Very useful hub. Thanks for the facts and the warnings. You may have prevented a fire by causing someone to be careful.

Shasta Matova from USA on January 23, 2012:

Fire safety is important - thank you for bringing it to our attention, and providing these great tips. The video does provide the incentive to follow them.

Julianna from SomeWhere Out There on January 22, 2012:

The video itself can instill fear! I just watched a house fire the other night from a distance. Cause has not been determined. I hope your preventive tips will make people pay attention. We have smoke detectors in our house, but there are many homes that do not have them. Thumbs up! :)

JS Matthew (author) from Massachusetts, USA on January 22, 2012:

@Nell Rose: Hello! Nice to see you! You are lucky and smart to have fire alarms/smoke detectors installed. Many people do but either remove the batteries when it goes off because of "burnt toast" or they don't change the batteries. So many people die because they don't have proper detection. You are lucky you did! Thanks for stopping by and for voting up! I appreciate your comment!


JS Matthew (author) from Massachusetts, USA on January 22, 2012:

@poetvix: Yes, you are lucky! Using a stove to heat a home is common but very dangerous! Many house fires and deaths from noxious gasses occur from heating the home with a stove. Inspections are crucial, particularly in older houses with older systems. Paying $100 or so every few years can save your home, valuables, and ultimately, your life! I am happy to hear that your technician was paying attention and alerted you to your faulty parts and fire hazard. Most professionals are attentive and honest. You are lucky to have hired one of them! Thanks for sharing your experience. I hope that others will read your comment and asses their own situation. Thanks for stopping by!


Nell Rose from England on January 22, 2012:

Hi, only recently my friend was staying with me and lit a candle in the spare room, she came downstairs forgetting about it, and suddenly the fire alarm went off , thank goodness I had one! she had put the candle near a plastic topped bottle and it had tilted over and caught it alight! the smoke was horrible but we caught it quickly, your ideas are very useful, and will save lives, voted up! cheers nell

poetvix from Gone from Texas but still in the south. Surrounded by God's country. on January 22, 2012:

Thank you for the useful information. When much younger I used to use the stove for heat all the time. It's a miracle I'm alive. I hope more people learn what not to do by reading this. The inspection thing for heating systems is a really good idea too. I recently had AC work done and while up there the technician pointed out my furnace was a fire hazard. He was so right and even showed me the faulty parts leaving no doubt. I never would have known had not he checked it out while he was up there.

JS Matthew (author) from Massachusetts, USA on January 22, 2012:

@picklesandrufus: I appreciate you stopping by! Thanks for the comment and vote!


JS Matthew (author) from Massachusetts, USA on January 22, 2012:

@gjfalcone: Those who do not respect the flame will get burned! Thanks for your comment and votes and I appreciate you SHARING!


picklesandrufus from Virginia Beach, Va on January 22, 2012:

This hub is filled with very good information! Thanks for sharing it.Vote up

gjfalcone from Gilbert, Arizona on January 22, 2012:

I have a few scary bushes with fire and none of them are pleasant memories. I highly respect the power of the flame. Voted ^ & useful

And Thanks for SHARING

JS Matthew (author) from Massachusetts, USA on January 22, 2012:

Thank you tarajeyaram! I appreciate you putting this on your favorite Hub for the week! What an honor!


tarajeyaram from Wonderland on January 22, 2012:

This a really good hub J.S. Matthew. You have lots of good information. This hub should reach out to many. I have put this hub on My Favorite Hub for the Week: Jan 22.

JS Matthew (author) from Massachusetts, USA on January 22, 2012:

@DzyMsLizzy: What an insightful comment! Propane heaters are notorious for setting fires. I realize through these comments just how many people are effected by fires! I bet you are right that if a psychologist was to scan the area, they might find the person who set it. I know that statistically, arsonists usually return to the scene to watch. That is part of their M.O. Thank you for sharing your story!


JS Matthew (author) from Massachusetts, USA on January 22, 2012:

@tammyswallow: Wow that is a scary story! So glad no one got hurt! I bet the neighbor was not a favorite in the neighborhood! Thanks for stopping by and sharing your story. Fires are very scary and are often caused by carelessness!


JS Matthew (author) from Massachusetts, USA on January 22, 2012:

@Brett.Tesol: I appreciate your comment and votes! I also appreciate you SHARING! I have nearly tripled my traffic by utilizing your little experiment! Let's see where it takes us!


Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on January 22, 2012:

Fire is most certainly the proverbial double-edged sword, both necessary and dangerous. What a scary-looking glad no one was hurt, but how awful to lose everything. I can relate on some level...

Back in 2007, we had a fire in our shop, caused by a defective propane heater. All the safety precautions were in use, but when we turned it off, it did not shut off properly; the flame went down through the regulator and burned through the feed hose. It was right after Thanksgiving, and we had our holiday decorations down from the attic ready to bring into the house. We lost over 2/3 of it. Luckily, the fire did not burn any of the actual building, as we were standing right outside and were "on it" with garden hoses right away. The smoke and water damage, however, was so extensive that we had to rip out all the interior sheet-rock and cabinets and replace ... with some of the insurance money, we installed central heat and air. No more propane heaters!

As for arsonists, I think they would be cured if given a taste of their own medicine! How would they like for THEIR house to burn??? What is sick about them, is that they can usually be found in the crowd watching the fire crews...send a psychologist out to mingle in the crowd at these scenes, and I bet the miscreant would be spotted!

Tammy from North Carolina on January 22, 2012:

That is frightening! This is very good information and you make it obvious why safety is so important. Last winter, my neighbor decided to burn his trash. He put it in a barrel and went inside. A while later, I had to run outside and everything was on fire. It was one foot away from his house, it burned his minivan, he destroyed my other neighbor's Mustang, trampoline, and tree house. It spread all through the 25 acre horse pasture behind all of us and killed the grass that the horses ate. Luckily my sons got out in time to keep it from my house with the hose, but it burned my storage shed and some bicycles. People need to be more careful. Compelling photos! I hope everyone was ok. Great hub!

Brett C from Asia on January 21, 2012:

Voted up and useful, you give some very sensible advice that could save lives. I'm not sure why, but I had never connected winter with more fires (probably because of the wet and cold), but what you say makes sense.

Thanks for SHARING.

JS Matthew (author) from Massachusetts, USA on January 21, 2012:

Hello kevins blog52! Yes, luckily no one was injured. I spoke with a friend yesterday who is a fireman and they do have a suspect in custody. Apparently he had made threats in the past. It is just very hard to prove when there are no witnesses. Thanks for stopping by! I appreciate your comment and votes!


kevins blog52 from southern Indiana on January 20, 2012:

Great useful hub J.S.Matthew, those poor people,I hope all was ok.I hope you get a lot of reads on your hub, this is very useful and helpful voted up and useful.

JS Matthew (author) from Massachusetts, USA on January 20, 2012:

Hello alocsin! Yes, the fire fighters did a great job in spite of the wind which you can probably hear and see in the video. This fire was set by an arsonist and they are currently investigating it as an arson. They have a "person of interest" as well. I have heard rumors that the fire may have been started over a dispute about a parking spot. Still speculation at this time. I'll update when I get more info. Very sad! Thanks for stopping by!


Aurelio Locsin from Orange County, CA on January 20, 2012:

What a scary possibility for the winter, though it looks like the firefighters are doing an excellent job in preventing the neighbor houses from catching fire. Voting this Up and Useful.

JS Matthew (author) from Massachusetts, USA on January 19, 2012:

Hello Susan. That is a scary story. I am happy to hear that no one got hurt. Fires are no joke and are usually caused by human error and neglect. Most times they are avoidable. My dad told me a story about when he was young, he liked to read. He used to put a blanket over his lamp so he could read late at night without his mother knowing. One night he fell asleep and his blanket was smoldering. He's lucky because the materials that blankets are often made of are very flammable! Thanks for sharing your story. Fire is such a necessity for survival but can become uncontrollably dangerous and lead to death. We need to be careful when we use anything that can cause a fire. Thanks for stopping by again!


Susan Zutautas from Ontario, Canada on January 19, 2012:

When I was 14 I had gotten some orange crates to use for shelving in my bedroom. I had candles and there and one day I had lit them, forgotten I'd lit them and gone down to the pool for a swim. This was in an apt. complex. Anyways I happened to look up at our apt and saw huge billows of smoke coming out of the window where my bedroom was. It was awful and luckily no one was hurt or injured.

Excellent hub on Fires during these cold winter months.

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