Top 7 surprising ways your home could catch fire

Surprising items can spark a fire in your home

It is something no one ever wants to experience, but unfortunately house fires claim not only homes, but thousands of lives each year.

There are 365,000 house fires every year in the United States. But in most cases, homeowners could have prevented those blazes in the first place.

Candles and kids experimenting with matches and lighters are a common cause of fire, resulting in nearly 70,000 fires a year. Kids playing with matches and lighters is the number seven most common cause of fire. Candles are number six.

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The number five cause of fire is in your laundry room. That's why firefighters urge you to clean out your dryer screens and vents on a regular basis.

Blazes sparked by smoking materials are completely preventable, and also the most deadly, averaging more than 500 deaths a year. Smoking materials denote number four on the top reasons for a house fire.

And its easy to see why.

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to see what happens when a lit cigarette falls into a can of flammable material.

Electrical fires are the number three most common type of fire. If you really look around your house, chances are you're guilty of this.

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"The worst thing we see with the outlets is overloading," Quincy Firefighter Jerry Smith said. "We want to make sure the outlet strip has a fuse or a breaker so if it is overloaded, the fuse on the strip will blow. We don't want to get the wires hot in the wall itself."

Power strips should also never be used in connection together, or be used to plug in a major appliance.

Firefighters say you should never plug more than three strands of Christmas lights together. It's different for folks with LED lights. In that case, you can plug seven in safely.

While space heaters are useful during the winter months, they can also be dangerous making them the number two fire starter on our list. Firefighter Jerry Mast with the Quincy Fire Department says the name says it all.

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to learn more about how space heaters can cause problems.

"Space heaters need space," Mast said. "We want three feet around this entire space heater including the wall, we need to move this blanket away and move it away from the wall. Put it on a sturdy surface so it won't tip over. If it does tip over it's going to keep producing heat and sooner or later we're going to have a fire."

But above all, Smith says the number one reason for structure fires spark in your kitchen.

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In Quincy, firefighters respond to at least one kitchen fire a week. And contrary to what you might think, more fires start on electric stoves ... which have no open flame.

"People put things on there and don't realize that the top is still hot, or put things on the stove at night and turn it on in the morning and don't realize something is still on there and it ignites," Smith said.

Always be in the kitchen when you're cooking and don't leave for a second. That's when firefighters say bad things can happen.

"People get complacent; they get comfortable. The first ten times it didn't cause a fire, but sooner or later it catches up with you," Mast said.

Why are they so common?

"People get complacent in the kitchen. They forget and leave the handles out over the stove where kids can grab them," Smith explained. "That's a common problem with burns on kids."