KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — With fall underway, it may seem like house and structure fires are becoming more common, but some simple steps can help reduce the risks of a house fire.
Winter is notably a time when more house fires happen. According to Knoxville Fire Department Assistant Chief Mark Wilbanks, the department sees an uptick in house fires as winter gets closer. From October 1 to March 1, he said that they see four fires a month on average.
A 2001 report from FEMA reports more fires in the winter-related to certain causes. Around Christmas, more fires were seen from cooking, heating, and open flames than the rest of the holiday season.
Another notable night for fires was Halloween, with a 63% increase in incendiary or suspiciously caused fires. The report points out a few concerning trends for fires from the year. More fires were caused by heating in the fall and winter, and cooking fires were higher in the fall.
Similarly, the National Fire Prevention Agency also reported in 2021 that heating equipment was the leading cause of house fires between December and January. According to NFPA, one-fifth of all home heating fires occurred in January with space heaters and fireplaces or chimneys being some of the most common causes of heating equipment-related fires.
While cooking, candles and smoking also make the list of common causes for winter fires, Rockford Mutual Insurance Company also included another potential culprit of fires: washers and dryers.
They explain that most dryer fires occur in the fall and winter months with a peak in January and that these fires can be prevented by cleaning the lint filter after each use of the dryer and having the vent and ductwork professionally cleaned once a year.
In addition to making sure equipment is properly cleaned and kept up, another important part of house fire safety is proper smoke alarm use. Sound the Alarm, a campaign through the American Red Cross, installs free smoke alarms nationwide to help reduce the number of deaths in home fires. If you need a smoke alarm, you can request them through the Tennessee Region of the American Red Cross using this online form.