State Fire Marshal Promotes Safe Candle Use at Holidays

candleBARNSTABLE – In an effort to promote the safe use of candles around the holiday season, State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan has declared Monday, December 8, as Candle Safety Awareness Day.

Last year, a fatal fire at an apartment complex in Plymouth was caused by a candle left burning.

The state has reported over 130 fires started from candles in 2013 resulting in two deaths, 25 injuries and over $4 million worth of damage.

Candle Safety Tips

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  1. Burn candles within a one-foot circle, free of anything that can burn.
  2. Before you go out, blow it out; never leave candles burning unattended.
  3. Always extinguish candles after use.
  4. Use a non-combustible saucer or candleholder.
  5. Keep candles out of reach of children and pets.

133 Candle Fires Caused 2 Civilian Deaths, 25 Civilian Injuries, $4.3 Million Damages
In 2013, candles caused 133 fires, two civilian deaths, 25 civilian injuries, six firefighter injuries and an estimated dollar loss of $4.3 million in damages. There was a 6% increase from the 125 fires of all types started by candles in Massachusetts in 2012.

Most Candle Fires Happen During the Winter Holidays
Increased candle use during the winter holidays leads to more candle fires at this time of year. Between 2009 and 2013, Christmas Day (Dec. 25), Christmas Eve (Dec. 24), New Year’s Eve (Dec. 31), November 29, and Halloween (Oct.31), were the days of the year when the most candle fires occurred. Extra care should be taken to prevent candle fires during the holidays.

On November 29, 2013, at 3:58 a.m., the Plymouth Fire Department was called to a fatal candle fire in an 85-unit apartment building. The candle ignited the plastic appliance housing it was situated upon. The victim, a 79-year old woman, was asleep at the time of the fire and overcome by the smoke generated by the fire. No one else was injured at this fire. Detectors were present and alerted the other occupants. The building was not sprinklered. Damages from the blaze were estimated to be $950,000.

Of the 99 candle fires in residential structures, 40% occurred in the bedroom. It is all too easy to fall asleep and leave a candle burning unattended in the bedroom. Sixteen percent (16%) occurred in the kitchen; 18% occurred in the living room, 4% started in the bathroom and 4% started in unclassified function rooms.

To be safe, consider using flameless candles in your home. Have flashlights and battery-powered lighting ready to use during a power outage instead of traditional candles.