Candle-Related Fires Rising

ByABC News via GMA logo
January 1, 2001, 1:34 PM

Jan. 2 -- They can be romantic, they can spread exotic aromas and they can add a warm, inviting glow to any home. But they can also be deadly.

Candle sales have been on the rise. And when more people light candles, more candles light deadly fires.

If you leave an open flame unattended, youre asking for trouble, Mary Kay Appy, of the National Fire Protection Association told Good Morning America. Even the melted wax of a candle can be dangerous, because it can carry a burning wick with it, and set fire to anything close by, she said.

Nationwide, 156 people died in some of the 11,600 fires related to candle use in 1997 , NFPA figures said. The statistics represent an alarming trend: an 82 percent increase in candle-related fires compared to 1990, and an 18-year peak in candle-related blazes.

Candle-Related Deaths

In the last year, 15 New Yorkers have died in fires caused by candles, three times more than in the previous year.

In November, 25-year-old Helen Carnegie, a film student, died when candles left burning at the foot of her bed ignited a fire.

And just days before Christmas, two young children were killed when a candle tumbled under their Christmas tree and caught fire.

In Maine, a 2-year-old boy was killed in a fire later traced to a candle that was left burning. His father, who was critically injured in the blaze, died on Christmas Day.

And in Worcester, Mass. six firefighters were killed in 1999 trying to put out a warehouse fire caused by an overturned candle.

Consumers Buying More Candles

Amid all these accidents, the candle business has been booming, and the sizes and fragrances of candle that are available has mushroomed.

Candles are used in seven out of 10 U.S. households, where most users burn one or two candles for a couple of hours, between one and three times per week. There are twice as many candle fires in December, when candles are given as gifts or lighted as a symbol of the holiday season.