Every 24 seconds, a fire department in the U.S. responds to a fire. Some of these fires are put out without property damage or injury, but others lead to financial ruin and tragedy. In 2019, the National Fire Protection Association estimates that fires caused roughly 3,700 deaths and 16,600 injuries, along with a staggering $14.8 billion in property damage. In New Jersey, firefighters respond to more than 32,000 fires annually. Structure fires are by far the most destructive and are responsible for most injuries and financial damage.
The long-term effects of fire accidents can be severe. Along with physical injuries like burns, respiratory injury, and smoke inhalation, someone may feel anxiety and even develop post-traumatic stress disorder. Escaping from a fire is a life-or-death situation, and losing treasured belongings or having to rebuild a home from scratch can be devastating emotionally.
New Jersey Fire Statistics
The most recently available data from the New Jersey Division of Fire Safety sheds light on the most common causes of fire accidents in New Jersey and the losses incurred from these incidents. Some fast facts:
- New Jersey fires most frequently happen in one- and two-family dwellings (single-family homes, townhouses, and duplexes) and multi-family dwellings (apartment complexes, condos).
- Union County, Hudson County, and Essex County lead the state for fire accidents.
- April is the top month for fires in New Jersey, followed by June.
- Last year, 34 people died in New Jersey home fires, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. The youngest victim was only five years old.
Common Causes of Fire Accidents
Cooking: Cooking was the most common fire cause in New Jersey in 2016, with 8,756 cooking-related incidents statewide. Leaving a stovetop unattended, not keeping a fire extinguisher nearby while cooking, and not cleaning up built-up grease can all increase the risk of fire.
Faulty Wiring: Electrical fires are often due to incorrect, outdated wiring. If someone plugs an appliance into an electrical outlet that can’t bear a heavy power load, it might spark and cause a fire. Malfunctioning wires can also be caused by an inexperienced contractor who didn’t install wires correctly.
Defective Products: Defective household products and appliances can cause dangerous fires. Everyday items like toaster ovens, electric heaters, refrigerators, and lamps are fire hazards if they aren’t appropriately engineered.
Discarded Cigarettes: Cigarettes, cigars, and lighters were responsible for more than 650 fires in New Jersey in 2016. If a cigarette butt isn’t put out all the way and thrown into a trash can or left on an ashtray, it can quickly cause a fire.
Smoke Detectors: A smoke alarm decreases the chance of fire death by 55 percent. Even if a smoke detector is present, it isn’t guaranteed to operate correctly — it must be replaced every ten years and tested regularly.
You can mitigate the risk of fire in a few key ways. Don’t leave the kitchen while you’re cooking, and keep your stove and oven clean and free of debris. Inspect your appliances regularly, and never use frayed or damaged power cords. Be careful when burning candles, and don’t leave them unattended. If a building catches fire, you should get out as soon as possible. If you can’t get out, shut the door of the room you’re in, place a wet towel under the doorway, and call 911 for help.
How a New Jersey Personal Injury Attorney Can Help After a Fire
Whether your losses are limited to property damage, or you suffer serious injury, the days and weeks following a fire accident will be filled with calls to your insurance company and trying to find a way to move forward. If your fire was caused by negligence on behalf of a landlord, contractor, or building manager, you might have cause for a lawsuit. If a defective product is involved, an attorney can hold the manufacturer or marketer accountable for their mistake. Involving a lawyer early on is critical because it can take investigators several weeks to declare the cause of a fire accident. Having a New Jersey personal injury lawyer ready to advocate for you following a fire accident injury can make all the difference. Contact D’Arcy Johnson Day toll-free at (866) 327-2952 or online for a free legal consultation.
From sexual abuse matters to personal injury and workers compensation, Jessica brings a wealth of experience to her practice at D’Arcy Johnson Day. Her fluency in both English and Spanish enables her to help so many members of the community, as she focuses on accident and personal injury cases, work injuries, medical malpractice, immigration, criminal law, and municipal court proceedings among other areas of practice.