Fire Prevention 52: Light My Fire

U.S. fire departments respond to an average of 15,260 structure fires started by candles every year.

Light My Fire! But Don't Burn the House Down in the Process

six candle flames in a row
Candlelight dinners are romantic. Lighting the house on fire...not so much!

Those candles, as romantic as they are, can be very dangerous.

On average, 42 candle fires are reported every day nationwide. That number almost triples to about 124 candle fires per day around Valentine's Day, causing about $4.5 million in damages.

U.S. fire departments respond to an average of 15,260 structure fires started by candles every year. These fires cause an annual average of:

  • 136 civilian deaths
  • 1,040 civilian fire injuries
  • $471 million in direct property damage.

There is nothing romantic about that!

Fire Info for You

Everyone:

  • If you are going to use candles, take this very short quiz to test your fire safety smarts first! Take the fire safety quiz now.
  • For those of us who live in government housing, consult your park’s Housing Management Plan to find out if candles are permitted.
  • Read about more ways to use candles safely.

Take Action

  1. Don't leave candles burning when you are not there or are going to sleep.
  2. Keep burning candles at least 12 inches away from anything that can catch fire. For added insurance, place your candles on a dinner plate. If real candles are a hazard, use the battery-powered flameless ones instead!
  3. Twenty percent of candle fires happen during power outages. Keep extra flashlights and batteries on hand to use instead of candles.

NPS Fire Facts

During the summer at Oregon Caves National Monument, the last tour of the day is conducted by candlelight. This gives visitors a chance to see what early explorers of the cave might have seen as they went from room to room with a candle.

Last updated: November 25, 2016