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House Fires Caused by Appliances


Can you guess in which room, or your home are you most likely to experience a fire? If you said the kitchen, your right. Thousands of home fires start in the kitchen. In particular, in or around kitchen appliances. Although, human error as a role in some of these fires, appliance fires are typically the result of mechanical or electrical failures. Keep reading to learn about the most frequent appliances to cause fires and what you can do to prevent a fire.

Cooking Ranges – Even after controlling for human error, stoves and ovens cause a lot of fires. In many situations, it's difficult even for investigators to determine whether a fire began due to human error or an electrical/mechanical problem inside the stove. You also might be surprised to learn that electric ranges cause more fires than gas ranges. Regardless of the range, it is not recommended to use it for storing unused pots or pans and do not leave a range unattended while in use.
Keep the stove top free from debris. Food, oils, grease, or just household items need to be removed from the stove top to prevent fires. Clean your oven frequently, burnt food or oils in the oven can catch fire.

If you have an appliance fire, use a fire extinguisher to put out the fire if it is contained only to the stove top, pot or pan. Anything larger, evacuate and call 911. If the fire is inside the oven. Leave the door closed and turn the oven off. Call 911.

Clothes Washers and Dryers – It's no secret that clogged lint traps cause dryer fires. Clothe washer and dryers cause an estimated 16,000 fires each year and most dryer fires ignite when the lint trap isn't cleaned frequently enough. That being said, the heating element in your dryer and the moving parts inside your washing machine's drum can catch fire through no fault of your own. For this reason, we always recommend following the manufacturer's instructions and do not overload either of these appliances.

If you have never cleaned the exhaust duct on your dryer, consider having the duct cleaned. Remove the lint trap and clean it thoroughly. Look into the dry and make sure there is not a build-up of lint under the lint screen. If there is clean it.

If you smell smoke or have a dryer fire, call 911. The Fire Department can use special technology to search the walls and attic for heat signatures indicating a fire hiding in the walls, attic, or ducts.

Dishwashers – Dishwashers are the second most common source of a kitchen fire caused by non-cooking appliances. Dishwashers combine electronics and heating elements with water, which is the perfect environment for electric fires to begin. We suggest you avoid turning on your dishwasher before leaving your home to avoid the risk of faulty elements starting a fire.

Portable Cookers/Warmers – Small cooking appliances like chafing dishes and slow cookers are also a relatively common cause of cooking equipment-related fires. While newer models have safety features like automatic timers – older ones don't. Therefore, if you have a hand-me-down slow cooker, don't allow it to operate overnight, or when nobody's home. Always unplug small appliances when they are not in use – but especially those with heating elements.


Refrigerators – You may be surprised to learn that – ta da! – refrigerators are the most common fire-causing appliances in the United States. There is virtually no opportunity for human error when it comes to refrigerator operation. Refrigerators run day and night, automatically cycling on and off for many years. Over time, various parts can wear out, including relay switches and compressors which are the primary causes of refrigerators igniting.

To lessen the chances of a fire, periodically pull out the fridge. Inspect wires and other visible parts for damage, overheating, or shorting. Vacuum or clean the coils and other parts. Excess dust, pet hair, or other contaminants can cause overheating and lead to fires.

Bathroom Vent Fans - using a bathroom vent fan is great for removing unwanted smells and steam that can cause damage to walls, fog the mirror, or ruin a good hair day. However, when left running for hours these vent fans can overheat, the motors can freeze up do to dust, rust, and other contaminants. If this happened an attic fire typically results. If your vent fan is making strange noise or you smell burning plastic or burning electrical odor, turn the fan off, unplug it and/or call 911.

Safety Tips provided by our hometown fire department, Rural Metro. Learn more at or call (480) 627-6200, M-F 8am -5pm.

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