Common causes of house fires in the UK

What are the most common causes of house fires?

House fires are one of the most devastating things that can happen to a family. Not only do they cause physical damage to your home, but they can also cause emotional damage to the people who live there. And while there are many different causes of house fires, there are some that are more common than others. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at the main causes of house fires and what you can do to prevent them.

Tip: Find out what you should do if you’ve suffered fire damage to your home.

Keep your family safe by knowing the most common causes of house fires

It will be of no surprise to learn that fire is an extremely complex phenomenon. While it can be simple to ignite a match, the causes of house fires are varied and complex.

Residential fires are caused by a number of factors including electrical problems, faulty wiring, smoking cigarettes, cooking food without proper ventilation, leaving candles unattended, and even children playing with matches.

The good news is that you can take steps to reduce the risk of fire in your home. You just need to understand what causes fires and how to prevent them. Let’s consider the main causes in more detail.

Cooking-related kitchen fires

Household fires typically start in the kitchen for a few reasons. When people cook, they often use kitchen appliances that can generate heat. If these appliances are not used properly, they can start a fire.

For example, if a stove is left on and unattended, it can easily catch something on fire. That’s why it’s important to be careful when cooking and to always keep an eye on appliances that are in use.

Most kitchens will also have a lot of flammable items like paper towels and cooking oil, which can help a fire spread. To prevent kitchen fires, it’s important to be careful when cooking and to regularly check your cooking equipment.


Who doesn’t love a BBQ? There’s something about cooking on an open flame that really appeals to everyone. However, I bet you didn’t know that BBQs are a common cause of house fires?

It’s that combination of an open flame, hot coals, spitting fat and oil, and flammable materials like paper or wood which can create a dangerous situation. If not properly monitored, a BBQ can easily get out of control and start a fire. Even if the fire is contained to the grill, it can quickly spread to the surrounding area and cause significant damage.

The most common cause is from leaving the BBQ unattended and not properly extinguished. Other causes include using BBQs indoors, using flammable liquids to start the fire, grease fires, and placing the BBQ too close to flammable materials.

To avoid a house fire, it is important to never leave the BBQ unattended, to properly extinguish the fire, and to keep the BBQ away from flammable materials.

Electrical systems and devices

Electrical appliances and other electrical equipment can cause electrical fires for a number of reasons. Electrical systems and devices can malfunction, overheat, or be improperly used. When this happens, the resulting fire can spread quickly and cause extensive damage. In addition, electrical cords can become frayed or damaged, creating a fire hazard.

House fires caused by electrical appliances are often preventable, so it is important to be aware of the potential risks.

Faulty wiring

Faulty wiring can cause house fires for a number of reasons. First, if a wire is damaged or broken, it can create a short circuit. This can cause an electrical shock to anyone who touches it, and it can also start a fire. Second, if wires are not properly insulated, they can overheat and catch fire. Finally, if wires are not properly secured, they can come into contact with flammable materials and start a fire that way.

Heating appliances

Heating appliances are another leading cause of house fires. Space heaters and other heating equipment can overheat and start a fire, especially if they’re not properly maintained. Dust and other debris can build up on heating elements, causing them to overheat and ignite. If you have portable heaters, make sure to keep them clean and well-maintained to prevent a fire in your home.


Candles can easily tip over and start a fire, especially if they are placed near flammable objects. When a candle is left burning, it is important to make sure that it is in a safe place where it cannot tip over. If you use candles, be sure to blow them out before leaving the room.


When a cigarette is not properly extinguished, it can smoulder for hours before igniting a fire. This is especially dangerous if the cigarette is left unattended in a room where there is flammable material. In addition, smokers often fall asleep while smoking, which can create a dangerous situation if the cigarette is not properly extinguished.


It’s an accident that can happen quickly and easily, with devastating consequences. Matches are designed to ignite easily and quickly, which is why they’re so dangerous in the hands of curious children. All it takes is a moment of distraction for a child to strike a match and start an accidental fire in your home.

Once a fire starts, it can spread quickly, putting everyone in the home at risk. Children may not understand the danger of playing with matches, but it’s important for parents to educate them on the risks. That’s why it’s so important to keep matches and lighters out of reach of children, and to teach them about fire safety.

Normal fires that get out of control

Whether it’s a wood-burning stove or a traditional fireplace, if not properly maintained, a fire can easily start and quickly spread throughout the home. Chimneys should be cleaned on a regular basis to remove any built-up debris that could catch fire. And wood-burning stoves should be inspected regularly to ensure they are operating correctly. By taking these simple precautions, you can help prevent a fire from starting in your fireplace and keep your family safe.

Holiday decorations

Christmas decorations and fairy lights are a wonderful way to spread holiday cheer. However, they can also be a fire hazard if not used properly. Improperly installed or damaged tree lights can cause sparks that can ignite holiday decorations and start a fire. Tree fires can also take hold if the tree is too dry. Please make sure to keep your tree watered. 

If you are using holiday lights this season, be sure to inspect them for damage and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installation and use.

Stay ‘fire safe’ in your home

Fire safety should be your top priority because it can literally save your life. Fire alarms and smoke detectors are your first line of defence against a fire, so make sure you have them installed and that they’re working properly. Test your smoke alarms monthly and replace the batteries at least once a year. Keep a fire extinguisher handy in case of an emergency, and know how to use it. And finally, never leave candles or other open flames unattended. By following these simple steps, you can spot potential fire hazards and help keep yourself and your loved ones safe from harm.

Download the UK Government’s Fire safety risk assessment: 5-step checklist for more information.

How many house fires are there in the UK each year?

Each devolved nation reports their statistics differently. However, here are the latest figures:

  • For the year ending March 2022, there were 63,482 house fires in England.
  • Scotland recorded 4,660 house fires during 2020/2021
  • Wales recorded 3,796 house fires during 2020/2021
  • The latest figures as reported by the NIFRS state that there were 782 house fires for the 2019/2020 time period in Northern Ireland.

Fire Damage Insurance Claim

Have you suffered fire damage and don’t know where to turn?

PCLA specialises in assessing fire damage. We understand the stress and trauma that you may be experiencing and we want to help.

Our first survey is free of charge, and we are a ‘no win no fee’ company. We work for you, to help you get the settlement you deserve.

We understand that this is a difficult time for you, and we want to help you get your life back to normal as soon as possible.

It’s our job to negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf. We’ll make sure they know where all of the property damage is and to make sure that you receive everything you’re entitled to.

Call 028 9581 5318 to get free advice and support. 

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