In a big state like ours, remote wildfires can burn hundreds of acres of wilderness with little disruption to our lives. But here in Anchorage, preventable house fires can leave another path of chaos. Annually structured fires cause about 90% of all reported property damage in Alaska, totaling $65M dollars.
Knowing the most common causes of house fires can help prevent property loss and even save lives:
Nationally, almost half of the reported residential fires are categorized as “cooking fires.” It is also the leading cause of home fire injuries and the second-leading cause of home fire deaths, according to a National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) recent report.
While any oven, microwave, air fryer, or toaster can cause a fire, they are usually only seriously ignited by grease fires. When your cooking oil gets too hot, starts smoking and then can burst into flames. For grease fires, don’t use water to squelch them. Keep the burning pot where it is, drench it with baking soda.
Alaska has a much higher rate of fires from heating. About a third of all residential structure fires in 2020 were determined to be heating-related. Heating oil, natural gas, electricity, and to a lesser extent, wood are common fuels here. All these systems have the potential to lead to house fires.
Portable heaters are another leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries. Users must respect the space requirements necessary to avoid igniting nearby flammable materials. Always read and observe the safety guidelines to keep you and your family safe from any potential fires caused by heaters.
Lastly, kerosene heaters are more likely than their electrical counterparts to cause fires (and carbon monoxide poisoning.)
Malfunctioning electrical outlets or faulty wiring account for a large portion of household fires, according to Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI). Nationally, electrical fires account for more than 51,000 house fires and over 500 deaths per year.
About 22% of adults smoke, Alaska ranked 35th among the states. Smoking materials like cigarettes, cigars, and pipes are the leading cause of deaths in home fires, though they only account for 5% of all home fires. People sometimes fall asleep while smoking and can set their bed or furniture on fire. Sometimes the ashtray spills and catches the carpet on fire.
While candles only account for 3% of all home fire deaths, these fires are completely preventable. Never leave it unattended; blow it out completely before leaving the room or going to bed. Keep flammable fabrics, papers, and other materials at least 12 inches away from candles at all times.
Anchorage firefighters remind you to replace your fire alarms every decade and replace the batteries. See if your local fire station will inspect your alarms for free. And if you have experienced fire damage in your home, call The Carpet Man, or TCM.
This independent, Alaskan-owned business started as a small cleaning business has expanded to fire, water & mold restoration. TCM Restoration & Cleaning has been serving the Anchorage and Mat Su Valley since 1996.