Most candle fires occur this time of year

( – State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan announced that Monday, December 8, 2014 will be Candle Safety Awareness Day and advised consumers to use candles safely during this holiday season and throughout the year. The second Monday in December has been established as Candle Safety Day by MGL C.6: S.12XX to promote the safe use of candles in the Commonwealth.

State Fire Marshal Coan said, “Starting with Halloween, we use candles to celebrate many of the winter holidays. Sadly, the increased candle use at this time of year causes a boost in candle fires.” Halloween, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve are among the days when the most candle fires occur in Massachusetts. “Candles should be blown out whenever you leave the room or go to sleep; and children should always be supervised, especially when around burning candles,” he added, “It’s important to burn candles inside a one-foot circle of safety, free of anything that can burn such as holiday decorations or curtains.”

Unattended Candle Caused Plymouth Fire Death at Thanksgiving

Last year on the day after Thanksgiving, at about 4 a.m. the Plymouth Fire Department was called to a fatal candle fire in an 85-unit apartment building. The candle had been left burning unattended and eventually ignited the plastic exterior of the appliance on which it was sitting. The victim, a 79-year old woman, was asleep at the time of the fire and was overcome by the smoke generated by the fire. Smoke alarms were present and alerted the other occupants. The building was not sprinklered. Damages from the blaze were estimated to be $950,000. “A fire is always a terrible event, but one at this time of year always seems worse,” said Coan.

40% of Home Candle Fires Start in the Bedroom

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. This is a 6% increase from the 125 fires of all types started by candles in Massachusetts in 2012. Forty percent (40%) of candle fires that occurred in homes started in the bedroom. It is all too easy to fall asleep and leave a candle burning unattended in the bedroom

Marshal Coan recommends that in order to reduce the risk of fire, candles should be used within a 1-foot Circle of Safety, and offers these safety tips:

  • Burn candles within a one-foot circle, free of anything that can burn.
  • Never leave candles burning unattended.
  • Always extinguish candles after use.
  • Use a non-combustible saucer or candleholder.
  • Keep candles out of reach of children and pets.
  • Consider switching to battery-operated flameless candles.

For additional information on candle safety, visit the Department of Fire Services web page at or contact the Fire Data and Public Education Unit at 978-567-3380 or toll-free at 1-877-9NO-FIRE (1-877-966-3472).

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