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October 23, 2013 09:55 PM

Improper Use Of Candles Risks Major House Fires

Sioux Falls, SD

The lighting of the Jack-O-Lantern is a Halloween tradition, but there are dangers that come with the use of those candles. It could be a scented candle or one simply used as a source of heat and light, if the warnings on the candle are not recognized, you are putting yourself in grave danger.

"Potentially, a candle with just a simple flame is no different than a blow torch," Beresford Fire and Rescue Chief Tarz Mullinix said.

They may seem innocent at first glance, but candles are the reason a home in Beresford went up in flames one week ago.

"Union County dispatch received a 9-1-1 call, which was transferred to them, and the girl said that her curtains were on fire. A candle, they had come in contact with a candle," Mullinix said.

That candle is the reason one family is now homeless, leaving significant damage to whatever was in the path of the flames.

"We probably have been in more than what we actually know, but it seems like probably once a year we will get a call where there is a fire involved which started by a candle," Mullinix said.

Candles are created in a way that the wax is used as a fuel to keep the flame going.

What happens if the candle is accidentally tipped over?

"One thing about a candle, it'll also burn horizontally, and as it burns horizontally, the wax melts five times as fast as it needs to be," Mullinix said.

That candle that tipped over could land on a newspaper, a piece of cloth or anything that is flammable. From there, the problem will only get worse.

"A fire that's burning in an open state will increase in size seven times a minute. So what starts out as a very small fire just inches in diameter will engulf an entire home," Mullinix said.

The result would be identical to the home in Beresford.

Having a candle in your home, of course, is not all bad, but there are certain things that you need to remember if you want to have a candle in your home and have it lit safely.

The biggest of those is to never let the flame leave your sight.

"Make sure they're extinguished. Give them time to cool, then double-check because simply blowing out a candle does not mean it's extinguished," Mullinix said.

One other safety measure that you can take into consideration is where you hold the candle. On the candles, the base of the glass is typically where you need to grab. The top of the glass could be 150 degrees or hotter, causing you to drop the candle and leading to a greater chance of a fire.

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