How Do Garage Fires Start?

There’s arguably nothing more heartbreaking that can occur to a house than a fire. Not only is it incredibly dangerous if anyone is at home at the time of the fire, but it’ll also completely destroy a structure inside and out.

how do garage fires start

Because of our natural fear of house fires, and rightfully so, homeowners take a lot of extra precautions to keep it safe. We install smoke detectors, watch what we place on a stove, as well as get fireplaces inspected and cleaned annually.

What About Garages?

Garage fires are extremely destructive because they can not only damage your items stored inside of it, including your personal car, but also spread to other parts of the house.

Since people generally don’t take as many precautions or dedicate as much attention to preventing house fires in a garage, they pose a greater fire danger. It’s especially true when you factor that a majority of garages contain flammable substances along with other materials that are easy to ignite.

Garage Fire Trends

Did you know that the majority of garage fires occur not over the summer, but actually during the coldest months of the year – January and February?

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, each year there are approximately 6,600 garage fires in the United States. The victim total is relatively low, yet has led to hundreds of injuries as well as much more in property loss.

Since garages are often attached to the rest of the home, failure to keep them as fireproof as possible not only results in a danger inside the garage, but to the rest of the house too.

Causes of Garage Fires

Electrical malfunction is the leading cause of garage fires. A flame frequently gets started when there is a short in the wires, the wires are damaged or electrical outlets are overloaded.

Garage fires are dangerous and more severe because of the amount of flammable materials often stored inside a garage. They also usually go undetected longer because most people don’t install a smoke detector in a garage and spend little time inside it.

Consequently, fires in a garage can spread further, quicker, and lead to more injuries or property damage.

Tips to Keep Your Garage Safe

keep your garage fire proof

Though nothing is 100% fireproof, you can do your best to vastly decrease the odds of a house fire, particularly a fire in a garage by following these steps:

  • Always store oil, gasoline, propane, paint and varnishes to a structure like a shed that isn’t connected to the rest of the house. These materials are highly flammable and shouldn’t get stored in your garage.
  • If you have appliances like a washer and dryer in your garage you shouldn’t store any items on top of the machinery as it can lead to a fire.
  • Never overload an outlet with multiple plugins. Garages are notorious for having overloaded outlets which is one of the leading causes of garage fires.
  • Avoid using extension cords in garages, especially when powering or charging appliances. It just adds another way wires could short and spark a new fire.
  • Sweep your garage frequently and do your best to keep it tidy. Some people neglect to keep a garage organized, and the more clutter it builds up the more fire starter fuel it presents.
  • Never use or install a solid-fuel burning device in a garage. It’s against building code for a reason. It’s a serious fire hazard.
  • Install a heat alarm instead of a smoke alarm. The heat alarm is more consistent and reliable, as smoke alarms can go off when the temperature gets too hot or dust and fumes interfere with its reading. If it keeps ringing off false alarms you’re likely going to detach the monitor eventually, which then serves no purpose at all.

5 Points of Garage Fire Prevention

What makes garages such a dangerous place for fires is because the area is often used for many things at once.

For example, you may use the garage to park your cars, store belongings, run household appliances that will not fit inside the rest of the house, operate machinery, work with tools, store flammable liquids and other harmful substances.

When all of these items are combined it can lead to quite the explosive fire. Obviously, no one wants that. Fire prevention in a garage involves a “5 Point System.”

  • Inspect and upgrade the structure of the garage annually.
  • Properly store items in a garage and remove flammable substances from the area.
  • Ensure that everything that draws power in the garage is safely connected.
  • Make sure that the garage door is fully functional, safe, and secure.
  • Operate a functioning heat alarm in the garage as opposed to a smoke alarm.

Stay Prepared and Prevent Garage Fires

The bulk of fires that start in a garage are as a result of electrical malfunctioning. The second cause is flammable material that catches a spark, and should have never been stored in the unit to begin with.

Most of these circumstances are preventable if you take the right steps to ensure your garage is as fireproof as possible.

Fires that start in the garage are among the most destructive. If you want to keep you and your family safe, you should make time for the garage and not just brush it off as a secondary part of your home.

These fires generally go undetected longer and spread quickly. It can easily penetrate the rest of your home where your family lives. Do not make the mistake of letting your garage turn into a fire hazard. Address these problems immediately in order to avoid the risk of fire damage.

In any event that you need a new garage, let Danley’s handle it. We’ve been building garages since 1959 and make sure to follow all codes and regulations. Get a free quote now to get started on your new garage project.



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Since 1959, Danley’s has been Chicagoland’s top choice for garage construction. Since then, we’ve built over 100,000 garages, making us Chicago’s largest and most trusted garage builder.

We offer an unbeatable combination of products, service and value for homeowners across Chicagoland.

Get a free quote now or call us at 877-DANLEYS today!

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