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Common Causes Of FireStructural fires cause massive property damage and devastating loss of life. Even if firefighters manage to put out a fire quickly, the smoke and tons of water pumped into the building will inevitably cause a lot of damage. Although it’s great that expert fire damage restoration in College Park is just a phone call away, it’s better to prevent a fire from happening at all.

Here are 10 common causes of structural fires to be mindful of: 

1. Unattended Portable Space Heaters

The US Consumer Product Safety Commission recognizes portable heaters as fire hazards that shouldn’t be left unattended. Electric heaters are high-wattage appliances and can start an electric fire. Wood and coal stoves, meanwhile, use fuel for combustion. Both electric and non-electric heaters generate enough heat to ignite a fire, and the risk will be high if combustible materials like curtains, newspapers, clothes, or flammable liquids are nearby. Therefore, fire experts recommend turning off portable heaters – including models with automatic shutoff functions – before going to bed.

2. Unattended Candles

Many light candles to create a cozy ambiance or enjoy a favorite scent. Unfortunately, many also forget about them and would leave the room or go to bed without blowing their candles out. These oversights can be very dangerous: it only takes one freak incident, like a pet cat knocking the candle over, to start a fire. 

Professional fire and water restoration in College Park can restore a gutted property, but the loss of life and damage to priceless belongings are irreversible. Always keep an eye on lit candles in your home.

3. Fireplaces

Fireplaces are essential in winter, but that doesn’t make them less hazardous. They are as risky as portable heaters and unattended candles: sparks might ignite a nearby carpet, and unsupervised children and pets can accidentally start a fire. Modern fireplaces are also hazardous because they generate heat. Moreover, they are connected to electricity or gas lines, which means faulty connections can lead to combustion. 

Like portable heaters, fireplaces should be extinguished before leaving a room or going to bed. 

4. Faulty Wiring

The risk of a house fire increases exponentially when the electrical wiring is worn out, poorly designed, or incorrectly installed. Faulty wiring can cause short circuits and overloading, two of the most common causes of electrical fires in homes and commercial buildings. Electrical fires spread very quickly. If this happens to your property, you’ll inevitably need fire damage restoration in College Park after the fire-out. 

5. Overheating Appliances

Old or broken appliances and devices tend to heat up quickly or more so than usual. This is usually a sign that their electrical systems are failing and becoming more hazardous daily. Overheating can cause electrical shorts, and in turn, can lead to electrical fires. Buying new appliances and reducing the fire risk in your home would be better. It is safer and much cheaper than re-furnishing your house and hiring professional fire damage restoration in College Park. 

6. Cooking 

The kitchen is filled with controlled fire hazards: gas stoves, electric stoves and appliances, kitchen torches, and flammable ingredients like cooking oil, alcohol-based sauces, flour, and sugar. If someone leaves a pot holder on a hot stovetop or spills cooking oil out of the pan, flames can flare and catch even the most experienced cooks off guard. 

Cooking will always come with some risks, so we recommend taking preventive measures like keeping a portable fire extinguisher within reach and installing fire alarms in the kitchen.

7. Propane Gas Tanks

Many households still use propane or hydrocarbon gas tanks for cooking, heating, and powering backup generators. They are more convenient and affordable in remote locations. They are generally safe to use. Unfortunately, mistakes in handling tanks can result in devastating fires. 

Propane gas tanks explode when exposed to high temperatures and open flames. Faulty valves can cause leaks, which can also lead to fire explosions. These scenarios are highly destructive, and damaged properties will inevitably need fire and water restoration in College Park afterward.

8. Lint in the Dryer

Many don’t realize that the lint screen in their dryers can become a fire hazard if they don’t clean it regularly. Lint is combustible, and when you have a thick layer inside your dryer, it can catch fire from the heat. Case in point: from 2010-2014, the NFPA reported 15,970 house fires due to clothes dryers – 27% of which was because of accumulated lint. Remember to regularly check and clean the lint trap in your dryer to prevent combustion.

9. Smoking

Many don’t realize that the hot ashes in an ashtray and smoldering cigarette butts can ignite fires if the embers make contact with flammable materials like dried leaves and paper. The risks are even higher with a filled ashtray: cigarette butts are combustible and wrapped with paper. They can, therefore, still catch fire.

Accidental fires from ashtrays are minor and easily controllable. However, it can escalate if unattended. To be safe, smokers must regularly empty ashtrays and make sure every butt they throw is completely extinguished.  

10. Mishandling Flammable and Combustible Materials 

Whether at home or work, we are surrounded by flammable consumer products like alcohol sanitizers, nail polish, hairspray, cooking spray, lithium-ion batteries, paint, and more. These items are generally safe but can cause massive fires if not handled or stored correctly. 

For example, suppose you store 9-volt batteries in a kitchen drawer near your stove or keep spare screws and other metal trinkets in the same drawer. You’re risking those batteries shorting out and generating enough heat to ignite flammable materials like paper receipts and coupons nearby.

Proper handling and storage of flammable and combustible materials, i.e., keeping aerosols away from open fire and storing lighters and matches out of children’s reach, will go a long way in preventing fire on your property.

Restoration 1 of Columbia Are Here For Your Property Restoration Needs

Structural fires can happen anytime, and the consequences are often devastating – emotionally and financially. Understanding how fires can start is key to preventing them and protecting people and properties.

However, if a fire occurs despite your best efforts, you can always count on Restoration 1 of Columbia to restore your property. Our experience and skills in fire damage restoration in College Park are unparalleled. Whether you’re dealing with minor smoke damage or structural damage, we can help.

Call to schedule a consultation or visit from our fire damage restoration experts.