The Top 6 Culprits of Holiday Property Fires

Last Updated: December 11, 2017By

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With wildfires burning throughout Southern California, it’s a good reminder to keep up fire safety standards this Holiday season. Although it’s unknown how the Ventura fire started, the negligent use of Christmas lights, lit candles and fireplaces, and greasy ovens have been known to be a tremendous safety hazard. During the holiday season a house fire is the last thing you need on your plate.

As a landlord, it’s your job to make sure the property is safe. This includes making sure your units have updated, working fire detectors (optional, but highly recommended: fire extinguishers), doing routine property maintenance inspections, and providing timely updates to tenants if there’s an emergency. In addition to making the property safe, you might want to remind your renters of these flammable hazards this holiday season:

Christmas lights

This might seem obvious, but your renters should avoid using any Christmas lights that have frayed or pinched wires. They should also be mindful of unplugging their lights when they go to bed or leave their house, or using a time to stop the flow of electricity when not in use. According to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), “one of every four home Christmas tree fires is caused by electrical problems.” If you permit your tenants to hang lights on the exterior (like on a balcony or awning), require renters to unplug them at night or use a timer.

Bag candles

Although candles placed in paper bags can look nice, they’re also a huge fire risk. Consider recommending using battery-operated, flameless candles. Give your renters a pack of these as a gift.


Remind your renters to keep any flammable objects away from lit fireplaces (or candles for that matter). The USFA states that one in every four Christmas tree fires is caused by a heat source too close to the tree.

Greasy Ovens

Cooking is an essential part of the winter holidays. Unfortunately, it can also be the culprit of grease fires. Casually remind your tenants of the dangers of standing oil/grease in ovens and on stovetops.

Religious Candles

Key holidays like Hanukkah and Kwanza use lit candles in their celebrations. While your renters might be hesitant to use flameless candles, recommend keeping any lit candles they have at least 12 inches away from anything that can burn and use the proper candles. Hanukkah candles are specifically designed to be fast burning, so they don’t stay lit long. Burning candles should also never be left alone.

Dry Christmas Trees

Do your renters love real Christmas trees? While the USFA says that Christmas tree fires aren’t common, they’re more likely to be serious. Your renters should frequently water their tree and be mindful of their pets. Both dogs and cats tend to love drinking from the basin of the Christmas tree – meaning more water is needed. After Christmas, send your renters a reminder to dispose of their Christmas trees (and provide resources as to how they can do that).

Although we’re already in the middle of the holiday season, it’s never too late to remind your tenants of proper holiday safety!


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