The Science of Fire: Understanding How Fires Start and Spread

We all lead busy lives where carelessness easily comes, and fire hazards— including lamps, candles, and curtains— quickly start fires. 

Unfortunately, careless mistakes can lead to dire consequences. But by understanding how fires start and spread, you give yourself an edge. Read on to find out about how fires start and spread. 

How Fires Start and Spread at Home

Here’s how fires start and spread at home: 


how fires start and spread cooking

Many residential fires begin in the kitchen because of improper handling of cooking appliances. 

For instance, oven fires can start if food is left inside the oven at an excessively high temperature. The fire can then leap to nearby items like curtains and paper towels. Hot vegetable oil can also splatter and start a fire. So, you must keep an eye on what you're cooking and control the heat properly to prevent these dangerous scenarios. 

Heating Equipment

heating equipment

Heaters, especially portable ones, can ignite a fire if you leave them running for a long time or put them near items like candles and curtains. 

The fire can spread to other parts of the house in seconds or minutes depending on its size. So, you must perform proper maintenance and place your heaters away from items that quickly catch fire. 

Electrical Systems

electrical systems

Old or faulty electrical wiring can cause sparks that may start a fire. The fire can then spread inside the walls of your house. This type of fire is highly dangerous because it's hard to see until it's too big. So, don't forget to practice electrical safety at home.  


how fires start and spread candles

Burning candles can also start fires when left unattended, especially when placed near flammable items like paper and curtains. The fire can leap from the candle to these items, and the next thing you know, a huge fire is burning your house down. So, always put out candles before leaving the room or going to sleep.


how fires start and spread smoking

Burning cigarettes can also cause fires. Cigarettes that aren't completely extinguished can ignite nearby materials. The fire can then spread by reaching things like bedding, carpets, or furniture. So, make sure that you fully put out cigarettes after use. Never smoke in bed as well. 

Christmas Decorations

how fires start and spread Christmas decorations

Holidays and celebrations might be great, but they can lead to fires. For instance, Christmas trees can catch fire. The fire can then spread to other decorations. 

Christmas lights with faulty wiring and overloaded circuits can also overheat and start a fire. The fire can then spread to other parts of the house. So, you must routinely check your decorations and avoid overloading circuits. 


Fires spread by catching onto nearby objects that can burn. For this reason, you must know how to reduce the chances of starting a house fire.

One of the best ways to do this is to assemble a fire kit with an emergency fire blanket, fire spray, fire protection gloves, and smoke mask. Go to Prepared Hero and shop for fire safety tools now!