How do fires start? Common causes of fires you should know about.

Fires are extremely unpredictable and dangerous incidents that have caused damage, injury, and death all over the world. According a study by the International Association of Fire and Rescue Services, there were 4 million cases of fires across 48 countries in 2020. More than 20,700 people died and more than 70,000 were injured in the fires.

In the Philippines, the Bureau of Fire Protection recorded 13,029 fires from January 1 to December 26, 2022. These cases included fires in urban areas and in mountains and forests.

Some fires are caused intentionally by people with ill motives, but most of the time, fires are caused by accident. Why do these fires happen?

Since fires can quickly get bigger and uncontrollable if not responded to immediately, the best practice is to prevent them from happening in the first place. Prevention starts with identifying the common causes and understanding the factors related to them.

Faulty and outdated electrical wiring, misuse of extension cords
According to the BFP, fires due to faulty wiring in 2022 increased by almost 13% compared to 2021. Frayed or exposed wirings can release heat on combustible surfaces and old wirings are more likely to overload due to the number of appliances being used in a house or building. Using extension cords for multiple and large appliances can also cause electrical fires since these cords do not have the capacity to handle the energy needed.

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Unattended cooking and candles
In busy households, it’s common for gas stoves to be used and left unattended. Leaving the kitchen while food is cooking, especially with high heat and oils, is very dangerous since the fat and food inside pots and pans can catch on fire. Sometimes people forget about their cooking and leave it on the stove for too long, causing the cookware to overheat and start a fire. Candles are also risky to leave lit since curtains, clothes and other flammable materials can easily touch its open flame. When lit candles are knocked over, furniture and carpets can catch fire.

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Gas leaks from counterfeit and damaged LPG tanks and refilled butane cans
Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) is a highly flammable fuel gas used in cooking equipment and is stored in tanks. Due to the demand and price of this gas, many counterfeit and substandard tanks are being produced and sold. These tanks do not go through any certified inspection and are susceptible to leakages which can cause explosions when exposed to sparks or even static electricity. In a similar way, butane cans that have been refilled manually are also more likely to leak gas. These cans are designed to be disposable, but refilling them has been a cheaper alternative for many consumers.

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Careless smoking
Many fires are caused by cigarettes that have been thrown on flammable materials. Even small cigarette butts, if not put out completely, can still ignite flames in trash bins, fields, and empty lots. There are also some smokers who irresponsibly throw their cigarettes near gas tanks, gasoline stations, cars, and other areas with highly flammable and combustible chemicals. Smokers sometimes smoke in beds or sofas and accidentally drop their cigarettes or dust-off lit particles, causing the furniture to catch on fire.

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By knowing these common causes, people will have the knowledge to proactively address fire hazards at home or in the workplace and correct irresponsible practices that can cause fires.

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Sources: – Most Common Causes of Fire – BFP records 13K fire incidents for 2022 – – 3 Main Causes of Fire Incidents in the Philippines and How to Prevent It

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