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Most house fires start in kitchen, national study shows

Cooking accidents cause most house fires, but fatal fires are more likely to start in the bedroom and be caused by smoking materials, according to a five-year study by the National Fire Protection Association.
BY MATT PATTERSON mpatterson@opubco.com Published: July 10, 2011
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After a night of fun at the bar, nothing goes down better than a plate of greasy eggs and bacon.

But the evening can end tragically if the cook passes out on the couch while waiting for the bacon to fry.

It's happened before in Oklahoma City, Deputy Fire Chief Cecil Clay says.

“You start cooking, go and lay down on the couch and the next thing you know, the whole house is on fire,” he said.

An entire Oklahoma City apartment complex burned some years ago because a woman started resting after putting her son's breakfast on the stove, said Clay, a 24-year veteran of the fire department.

Home fires are most likely to start in the kitchen from a cooking accident, according to a National Fire Protection Association study, but cooking fires are the cause of only 15 percent of home fire deaths.

Smoking materials

Fatal house fires are more likely to start in the bedroom, and smoking materials are the chief cause of deadly house fires.

The causes of bedroom fires range from faulty electrical wiring to unattended candles to smoking, which is blamed for one in every four home fire deaths.

During the study period 2005 to 2009, smoking materials such as cigarettes and cigars caused an average of 19,000 home fires a year.

The fire protection association reported that 62 percent of fatalities resulted from fires in which no smoke detectors were present or when the smoke alarm did not operate properly.

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