Oregon home fire claims rise during the holiday season


Locally cold weather prompts more flue fires and thefts

For most people, Christmas and other holidays we Americans celebrate this season are times of joy, reflection, giving, and festivity.

It’s a time to be with family, re-connect with distant relatives, and give thanks for our many blessings.

For some, though, an unattended candle or a frayed wire on the Christmas tree lights can quickly transform joy to tragedy.

Data collected by the Allstate Insurance Company show just how dangerous the holiday season can be.

“In Oregon, home fire claims jump during the holiday season by 17 percent, which, according to national Allstate data, can be attributed to holiday-related activities — and the losses can be quite large,” reported Allstate.

This is but one piece of information garnered by Allstate through a recent analysis of claims, in addition to a survey of Oregon residents’ attitudes and behaviors contracted to FTI Consulting, Inc.

“Candles are the most likely to cause a holiday-related fire,” said the report. “In fact, Christmas week is among the top three weeks for candle-related claims.”

The median cost for candle-related claims is almost $50,000, according to Allstate.

It’s higher for Christmas tree-related claims, at more than $100,000, but even that’s small, compared to some of the big ones.

“Since 2008, the most costly holiday fire claim involved an artificial Christmas tree in the homeowners’ living room,” said Allstate. “The total loss amount cost nearly $2.4 million.”

Turkey fryers and fireworks are two of the other popular tools Oregonians use that scorch their homes.

Given the data, one might assume that the holidays cause additional concern for those charged with protecting our property.

Not so in Crook County, according to Casey Kump, Deputy Chief of Crook County Fire and Rescue.

“Generally, we don’t see a big increase here, just because we’re not a large population center like some other places,” he said. “We hold pretty steady here. We definitely get our share of emergency calls, but it’s really not anything out of the ordinary compared to other weeks and months throughout the year.”

As it turns out, weather — not the holidays — create more local safety concerns during the holidays.

Kump said colder weather translates to both more medical calls and flue fires. The same holds true for theft and vandalism risks.

“What we see a lot of in the winter months in general — because people bundle up in their homes — there are people outside who are able to go into carports, go into unlocked vehicles, etc.,,” said Prineville Police Captain Michael Boyd. “They’re just not detected because no one can hear them out there, No one can see them, because it’s dark, and you’re all in the house. So in the winter, I think more than ever, it’s important to secure your property, lock your cars, and those kinds of things.”