What Causes Mobile Home Fires? (Understanding the Common Culprits)

Mobile homes are a popular choice for many people, offering affordable and convenient housing options. However, they are not without their risks.

One of the most common dangers associated with mobile homes is the risk of fire. But what causes mobile home fires? Let’s take a closer look at the factors that contribute to this risk and how to prevent them.

Key Takeaways:

  • Mobile homes are at a higher risk for fires compared to traditional homes.
  • Cooking, electrical issues, and heating equipment are the most common causes of mobile home fires.
  • Taking proactive measures, such as installing smoke detectors and avoiding smoking inside the home, can help prevent mobile home fires.
Additional Mobile Home Safety Topics
Are Mobile Homes Safe?
Are Mobile Homes Safe in Tornadoes?
Can a Mobile Home Collapse?
Can Mobile Homes Fly Away?
Do You Need to Winterize a Mobile Home?
Fall Mobile Home Maintenance Tasks
How Do You De-winterize A Mobile Home?
How to Protect Your Mobile Home from a Hurricane
Should You Be Concerned About Asbestos In Your Mobile Home?
Summer Mobile Home Maintenance Tasks
What Causes Mobile Home Fires?
What Happens If Lightning Strikes a Mobile Home?
When Is a Mobile Home Too Old?

Understanding Mobile Home Fires

Mobile homes are a popular housing option for many people due to their affordability and portability.

However, they are also more susceptible to fires than traditional homes.

In this section, we will discuss some of the key factors that contribute to mobile home fires and how you can prevent them.

1. Mobile Home Vs Manufactured Home

Before we dive into the causes of mobile home fires, it’s important to understand the difference between a mobile home and a manufactured home.

Mobile homes were built prior to 1976 and are typically smaller and less durable than manufactured homes. Manufactured homes, on the other hand, are built to higher standards and must meet certain safety regulations.

2. Year of Manufacture and Fire Risk

One of the biggest factors that contribute to mobile home fires is the year of manufacture. Mobile homes built before 1976 are particularly susceptible to fires due to their outdated wiring, heating systems, and insulation.

In fact, according to a report by the National Fire Protection Association, mobile homes built before 1976 are twice as likely to experience a fire as those built after 1980.

To reduce the risk of fire in older mobile homes, it’s important to have them inspected by a licensed professional. They can identify any potential hazards and recommend upgrades or repairs to improve safety.

Additionally, it’s important to be mindful of how you use appliances and heating systems in your home. Avoid using space heaters or stoves as a primary source of heat, and make sure all electrical wiring and outlets are in good condition.

THREE Common Causes of Mobile Home Fires

Mobile homes are homes, and like any other homes, they are vulnerable to fires.

According to NFPA, in 2018, there were an estimated 19,300 mobile home fires in the United States, resulting in 320 deaths, 1,000 injuries, and $155 million in property damage.

Understanding the common causes of mobile home fires can help you take steps to prevent them.

1. Cooking and Heating Equipment

Cooking is the leading cause of mobile home fires. Unattended cooking, overheating, and grease buildup are the common culprits. Never leave cooking unattended and keep a fire extinguisher nearby.

Also, be careful when using portable heating equipment such as space heaters and wood stoves. Keep them away from combustible materials and never leave them unattended.

2. Electrical Distribution and Lighting Equipment

Electrical distribution and lighting equipment are the second leading cause of mobile home fires. Electrical fires can be caused by faulty wiring, overloaded circuits, and damaged electrical cords.

To prevent electrical fires, have a licensed electrician inspect your mobile home’s electrical system regularly. Also, avoid using extension cords as permanent wiring and don’t overload outlets.

3. Smoking Materials and Arson

Smoking materials and arson are other common causes of mobile home fires. Smoking materials such as cigarettes, cigars, and pipes can ignite combustible materials if not disposed of properly.

Always use a deep ashtray and make sure smoking materials are completely extinguished before disposing of them. Arson, on the other hand, is a criminal act and is the cause of many mobile home fires. To prevent arson, keep your mobile home secure and report any suspicious activity to the authorities.

Fire Safety Measures in Mobile Homes

Mobile homes are more susceptible to fires than traditional homes due to their construction and materials.

Therefore, it is important to take fire safety measures seriously in order to prevent devastating fires. Here are some fire safety measures you should take in your mobile home:

1. Smoke Alarms and Fire Sprinklers

Smoke alarms and fire sprinklers are essential fire safety measures in mobile homes.

Smoke alarms can detect smoke and alert you to the presence of a fire, giving you time to evacuate. Install smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside each sleeping area, and on every level of your mobile home.

Test your smoke alarms monthly and replace the batteries at least once a year.

Fire sprinklers can extinguish a fire before it gets out of control. If you are building a new mobile home, consider installing fire sprinklers.

If you already have a mobile home, you can retrofit it with fire sprinklers. Fire sprinklers can reduce the risk of death by 80% and property damage by 70%.

2. Safe Use of Appliances and Heaters

Mobile home appliances and heaters are common sources of fires. Here are some tips for using them safely:

  • Keep appliances and heaters away from flammable materials such as curtains and bedding.
  • Do not overload electrical outlets.
  • Unplug appliances when not in use.
  • Use heaters that have been approved for use in mobile homes.
  • Keep space heaters at least three feet away from anything that can burn.
  • Do not use the stove or oven for heating your home.
  • Clean the lint filter of your dryer after every use.

Following these tips can help prevent fires caused by appliances and heaters in your mobile home.


In conclusion, mobile home fires are a serious issue that can cause significant property damage and loss of life. According to NFPA, during the five-year period of 2007-2011, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 11,400 structure fires in manufactured homes per year, with annual losses of 206 civilian deaths, 434 civilian injuries, and $179 million in direct property damage.

As discussed in the previous sections, there are several causes of mobile home fires, including cooking, heating equipment, electrical distribution/lighting, arson, and smoking. It is important to take preventive measures to reduce the risk of fire in your mobile home.

Here are some key takeaways to help you prevent mobile home fires:

  • Install smoke detectors and test them regularly to ensure they are working properly.
  • Keep flammable materials away from heat sources.
  • Use caution when cooking and never leave cooking unattended.
  • Have heating equipment inspected and cleaned annually by a qualified professional.
  • Do not smoke inside your mobile home.
  • Have an evacuation plan in place and practice it regularly with your family.

By taking these preventive measures, you can reduce the risk of fire in your mobile home and keep yourself and your loved ones safe.