dumbest fires

15 Of The “Dumbest” Ways People Have Set Their Houses On Fire

We’ve all heard some version of the story: someone falls asleep in bed with a lit cigarette and POOF! They wake up to the bed on fire. Most fires are preventable, but of course, accidents can happen. Dumb fires can happen, too.

While we like to think firefighters are these stoic saviors of life and property, they have feelings about the fires they put out—and may even secretly be judging whether you’re a huge idiot for starting the fire they had to come take care of.

On Reddit under the thread “Firefighters Of Reddit, What’s The Dumbest Way You’ve Seen Someone Accidentally Start A House Fire,” firefighters and their family members are telling just that. Here are some of the most ridiculous. 

1. The Turkey Grease Incident 

“My husband and I went to his parents house for Christmas one year. When we came back home we had a WTF happened moment across the street. The house had all the windows busted, the brick on the entire house was charred, and all the cars in the driveway were melted to the cement. Turns out they had started a grease fire from frying a turkey, then tried to throw water on it to put it out.

Do not throw water on a grease fire! You need to smother the fire properly.” — mud73

2. When Teaching Candle Safety Goes Wrong  

“In the city of Colorado Springs, the local news did a fluff piece about candle safety near Christmas. After they were done filming, the store owner that they were filming in took the crew out to breakfast. She didn’t put out the candles, and burned several shops to the ground. The film crew was there to film her breakdown when they realised what caused the fire.” — bananainmyminion

3. Too Stupid To Be Fraud 

“I worked for a restoration company. A family cut a small tree down and tried to stuff it up their fireplace to burn. The flute was so crammed with leaves that smoke started to fill the living room. They tried to pull the tree out and that’s when it REALLY caught fire. They tried to pull it out of the house, they got as far as the front door. All of them had 2nd/3rd degree burns on their hands/arms and the fire destroyed the front room and entry way of their house. The insurance company asked us if we thought it was a case of fraud, and we told them, ‘No these people are just really stupid.'” — brianh71

4. The Roomba Did It

“A roomba knocked a scented candle over and set fire to the rest of the room. The guy said he knew the roomba did it because he watched the whole thing happen, but didn’t do anything because he thought it was funny.” — SeriousSam430

5. Hot Coals In A Cardboard Box

“Teenager was charcoal grilling in the attached garage during the winter. When done he decided the best place to dispose of the hot coals was into a cardboard box in front corner of the garage closest to the house. Yeah, it went about as well as you can imagine.” — remlik

6. Frozen To The Ground 

“A fairly common one, but the response was interesting! Early February, Western PA. Guy’s pipes freeze on the coldest day of the year, -8F. He tries to thaw them with a propane torch. Sets the wall on fire. Tries to put the fire out. Fails. Finally calls 911. Fire Chief is 1/2 block away. Is on-scene in under a minute. Basement is fully involved, main floor catching. First engine arrives in under 5 minutes. Doors are blocked by fire, exterior attack only. I’m on an attack line, spraying water into the 2nd-floor window. After 40 minutes, another firefighter comes to relieve me, but since I’d been getting backspray, I’m frozen to the ground. He has to pull me loose. 2 hours later, we have it knocked down. The insurance adjuster shows up. Asst. Chief explains what started the fire. Adjuster replies, ‘Oh, yeah, we know. It’s OK, we insure for Stupid!’ (Nobody got hurt. Family gets a much nicer house out of the deal.)” — Jef_Wheaton

7. Candle Wax And Oxygen Tanks 

“My Dad was a firefighter, and he once went to a house fire that was started by the old lady who lived there. She liked to burn candles, but didn’t like the wax buildup that would form in the cavity, so she would soak up the liquid wax with a napkin. She was doing this when she accidentally brushed a wax soaked napkin up against the flame. She panicked and threw the napkin into the trash . . . where all the other wax napkins were. As the trashcan exploded into flames she fled the house, but not before she went to her oxygen tanks and FLOODED THE HOUSE WITH PURE OXYGEN, because she thought that it would smother the fire.” — corvettee01

8. Bedroom Camping

“When my father in law was a kid, he really wanted to have a camp fire. His parents told him no. He was determined to have a camp fire so he went up to his room and started one under his bed so they wouldn’t know. I keep that knowledge in my back pocket for whenever he wants to imply I’m an idiot.” — AlaWyrm

9. Back Alley Sword Making 

“I am a firefighter but this wasn’t in my district. A guy was attempting to forge a sword in a burn barrel in an alley, based on something he watched on the History Channel. The embers from the “forge” lit up the building he lived in and destroyed 3 multi family residential buildings.” — snufalufalgus

10. Followed By Fire

“Late 1980s. Guy was driving an old, beat-up Lincoln. He turned a corner to go up a steep hill, but the road dept. had recently ground the asphalt down in preparation to repave. A storm sewer manhole cover was sticking up about 4″. As he went over it and up the hill, the rear of his car dragged due to the pavement height difference, and the manhole ripped open his fuel tank and sparked off the gas. Guy described it- ‘I heard a scraping sound, looked in the mirror, and there was this trail of FIRE chasing me up the hill, like I was the Road Runner!’ He pulled into a gravel parking lot and tried to kick a break in the trail before the fire got there, but it jumped the gap and lit the car. By the time we got there, it was a total loss. He actually thought it was kind of funny. The only real loss was his wife’s purse, with her license and credit cards. The car was insured, and they got a pretty nice payout for it.” — Jef_Wheaton

Patricia Grisafi

Patricia Grisafi, PhD, is a freelance writer and educator. Her work has appeared in Salon, Vice, Bitch, Bustle, Broadly, The Establishment, and elsewhere. She is passionate about pit bull rescue, cursed objects, and designer sunglasses.