WASHINGTON, D.C.- A Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) new report (pdf) reveals that although deaths from residential fires have been nearly cut in half–from 4,500 in 1980 to 2,660 in 1998–those caused by candle-related fires have increased dramatically. Candle deaths increased 750 percent from 1980 (20 deaths) to 1998 (170 deaths).
Moreover, the report says that although house fires dropped from 655,000 in 1980 to 332,300 in 1998, the latest year for which data is available, the number of house fires caused by candles increased from 8,500 in 1980 to 12,900 in 1998.
In most cases, the fires involved residential structures, and the candles were left unattended or were tipped over and ignited nearby combustibles. Almost half of home candle fires start in the bedroom and ignite mattresses or bedding, furniture (dressers, desks, and tables), and curtains. The types of candles most often involved are tealights and tapers.