How Can a House Fire Start? Leading Causes of House Fires

Posted on by in Wrongful Death

A fire can destroy a home in a matter of minutes, and even a small fire can result in an unthinkable loss. Unfortunately, in many home fires, victims were fatally injured before the fire department arrived at the scene. Dangerous blazes generally do not just happen. Most of the time, a deadly fire is the result of some form of negligence. Home fires and home fire deaths occur more often in colder months. Home structure fires are frequently caused by cooking materials, smoking materials, and heating equipment, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Over a five-year period:

  • Smoking materials were the primary cause of accidental house fires deaths.
  • Cooking equipment was the second-leading cause of home fire deaths and the leading cause of home structure fires and fire injuries.
  • The third-leading cause of fire deaths and the second leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries was heating equipment.

Almost three of every five fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms. Only 7% of the fires occurred in properties equipped with fire sprinklers.

Electrical malfunctions, heating equipment failure, or defective products, can all contribute to serious injuries and wrongful death. Thus, you may find yourself forced to cope with a serious loss.

House fires can result in permanent brain damage, damage from inhaling harmful smoke and even death. If someone you love died due to a home fire, then a Miami wrongful death lawyer can investigate your case and help you pursue the money damages that you are legally entitled to. There are a variety of fire hazards and risks in your home, and it is essential to stay aware of them to keep you and your family safe. Here are some of the ways that a house fire can occur.

Home fire involving electrical failure or malfunction

  • Defective lightswitch causes fire in house. A couple had three new light switches installed in the living room of their new house. Later on, they noticed small sparks would fly when the lights were turned on and off but were unable to get ahold of the electrician for four days. While both owners were at work, their house burned down from a fire that inspectors determined started in the living room. There had been some lawsuits filed regarding sparks causing fires and other complaints regarding the light switch's manufacturer.

Home fires involving cooking equipment

  • Defective stove design blamed for kitchen fire. A man sustained burn injuries from a fire started in his kitchen. The man had been cooking dinner when he smelled gas from the top part of the stove, which suddenly burst into flames. Although he attempted to shut off the gas, the fire increased in size, causing him severe burns. Upon later inspection, the probable cause of the fire was discovered to be a gas leak linked to a defective seal in one of the stove's internal gas lines.

  • Faulty electric oven causes home fire and kills young child. The double oven electric range was purchased from a major national retailer, but it would turn on to extremely high temperatures and wouldn't stop. To have the oven fixed, the plaintiff contacted a service repair company in the general region. However, the serviceman who arrived at the plaintiff's home didn't have the necessary skills or parts to provide the needed repairs and left without correcting the issue and disabling the device. Three weeks later the oven malfunctioned once again, causing a significant house fire, which caused the death of the plaintiff's young son and destroyed the home.

  • Electrolux class action alleges defective ovens are fire hazard. A class-action lawsuit filed against Electrolux Home Products Inc., alleges that several models of both electric and gas range ovens sold under the brand names of Kenmore, Frigidaire, and Electrolux have defective wiring in their control boards, making them a dangerous fire hazard. A couple stated that after coming home from being away for the weekend, they discovered that their oven had caught fire damaging the kitchen, including the windows, cabinets, walls, small appliances, perishables, and a painting.

  • Woman's home damaged by fire from Whirlpool-manufactured range. A cooking range manufactured by Whirlpool Corp. unexpectedly caught fire and caused damage to a woman's residence and its contents. The plaintiff had to repair her home, its fixtures, and contents, and pay additional living expenses due to the extent of the damage.

Home fires involving defective gas systems

  • Women injured by fireplace explosion linked to defective gas system. An open gas fireplace with a glass guard located at a home owned by the plaintiff's colleague exploded severely injuring the plaintiff. During her time visiting the home, the colleague explained that the gas flow would be shut off if the pilot light for the unit was not lit. Seeing that the pilot light was not lit, she bent down in front of the unit to press the ignition button. The fireplace suddenly released an explosive discharge of flames, shattering the glass pane and sending tiny glass pieces at her face and causing extensive fire damage to the home.

  • Massive explosion linked to corroded gas line. A woman suffered severe injuries due to an explosion linked to a corroded gas line under her property. Weeks before the explosion, the woman complained to the utility provider that she repeatedly noticed the smell of natural gas on the lawn and in her home. Eventually, the leaking gas resulted in an explosion that destroyed the woman's house and severely damaged that of her neighbor. An investigation into the explosion determined that the gas pipe running underneath the house was more than 100 years old, and extensively corroded.

Home fires involving dangerous products

  • Fire caused by acetone-based cleaner. A woman sustained significant injuries in a fire caused by a standard, acetone-based household cleaning product. The plaintiff was using the product on the floor of her home when the cleaner suddenly ignited, causing her severe and permanent injuries, as well as significant property damage. A comparable water-based product is also on the market, and it was alleged that the manufacturer of the cleaning product did not need to include the flammable compounds to maintain the effectiveness of the cleaner.

  • Defective toy design leads to multiple fires. A class action was initiated in response to a line of defective and dangerous children's toys. Owners were not warned of the fire hazard. A circuit board on these toys was negligently and dangerously designed and had a propensity to overheat while the toy was in use and while charging, causing spontaneous ignition of the internal components. In several separate instances, the toys started to emit smoke, fumes, sparks, and flames, some of which have resulted in building fires and extensive injuries.

  • House fire caused by water treatment product. The plaintiffs sustained fire damages to their property that was caused by a faulty water treatment product. The manufacturer failed to inspect its product before distribution, failed to warn consumers of the hazardous and defective condition of the product and failed to supervise the manufacturing of the product adequately.

  • House fire caused by defective clothing iron. The plaintiff was using a clothes iron, purchased three months before the incident in question. He briefly put the iron down in the upright position and turned his back, but returned to find smoke and flames coming from where the electric cord met the base of the iron. The fire quickly spread to articles of clothing, the dresser, and to the bedroom. The fire department extinguished the fire, but the plaintiff suffered second-degree burns on both of his arms.

  • Defectively designed electric blanket causes death of woman and disfigurement of child. An electric blanket that a woman and her young son had been using caught on fire, eventually causing the woman's house to go up in flames. The woman was killed in the fire. Her young son was severely burned, was left with disfigurement and suffered an anoxic brain injury caused by a lack of oxygen. The child was expected to require lifetime medical treatment as the result of the fire.

Home fires involving heating equipment

  • Deadly house fire caused by gas-powered space heater. A man was using a space heater to provide supplemental heat to an enclosed porch attached to his home. While the heater was running, he left the porch area to prepare dinner for his family, but the heater malfunctioned, sparking a fire. The fire eventually spread from the porch area to the rest of his house, which burnt to the ground with one fatality.

  • Woman and child die in fire caused by defective portable heater. A portable electric heater started a fire in a row house which was the home of a twenty-three-year-old woman and her husband. The woman tried to save her two brothers and her daughter but died in the fire along with her three-year-old brother. Her nine-month-old daughter was left severely disfigured having sustained burns to most of her body. She also suffered a severe brain injury caused by a lack of oxygen.

  • Dangerous space heater causes extensive burns. A restaurant owner was using several space heaters, which were powered by a small cylinder of propane and were designed for indoor use to heat an enclosed patio. While working near the output grill of one of the heaters at what she believed to be a safe distance, the back of her clothes ignited, causing extensive burns on her skin and starting a small fire behind the bar, also causing thousands of dollars of property damage.

Contact a Miami home fire accident lawyer

After a home fire, insurance adjusters determine the amount of damage and whether their policy covers your claim. Where did the fire start?

Adjusters don't usually have the resources required to pursue this question, and investigative reports from city and fire marshals may not satisfy the legalistic concerns of insurance companies.

As long as you exercised the required carefulness in safeguarding your property, there's usually no difficulty with an insurance company. If the negligence of another caused or contributed to the harm you have suffered, you can rely on our home fire injury attorney and legal team to find answers to the complex questions to build a strong wrongful death or personal injury case.

Often, the fire itself destroys evidence. We have access to fire reconstructionists and experts who can analyze the evidence to determine the exact cause and origin of the fire. When a fire explosion involves faulty products, The Law Offices of Sean M. Cleary has exceptional legal skills, the drive, and resources to take on big business.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a home fire, contact us. As a tenacious advocate in personal injury and wrongful death claims, Sean Cleary is ready to fight for your rights in holding any negligent party accountable. The Law Offices of Sean M. Cleary represents injury victims and their families throughout Miami-Dade, Monroe, Broward, Fort Lauderdale, and Palm Beach Counties.

References

  • https://www.nfpa.org/News-and-Research/Data-research-and-tools/Building-and-Life-Safety/Home-Structure-Fires

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