In August, a 59-year-old Cleveland man became the first fire fatality of this year when a fire broke out on the first floor of his two-story home. While investigators are unsure how the blaze started, there were no working smoke detectors in the home at the time of the fire.

According to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), deadly residential structure fires increase in cooler months, spiking in January. Data from the USFA indicates that Ohio residents are at a slightly higher than average risk of dying in a fire.

Our firm works with clients who suffer injury or the loss of a loved one through devastating structural fires. Fire-related deaths do not usually result from burns, but from the noxious and deadly smoke that typically follow the fire. In looking at multiple-fatality fires in the United States between 2009 and 2011, the USFA made the following findings:

  • There are an estimated 740 deaths per year from residential structural fires, usually involving one and two family homes.
  • More fatalities from fire occur between 1:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. than any other time of the day, primarily because occupants are asleep.
  • Leading causes of residential fires include smoking, malfunctioning electrical appliances or wiring, open flames, poorly functioning heating appliances, and carelessness, including storage of combustible materials near a furnace, fireplace or lit candles.
  • It does not take widespread fire to kill — fatalities often occur in the room where the fire started.

You have the ability to reduce the risk of fire in your home by properly maintaining appliances, extinguishing candles and fireplaces at night or whenever you leave your home, and replacing batteries in smoke alarms when daylight saving time ends. These steps can prevent a deadly house fire and the tragedy of lost life.