Pensioner forgot candle: Advent wreath set kitchen on fire

Pensioner forgot candle: Advent wreath set kitchen on fire
Dry brushwood and too little distance between candles and the combustible material: high risk of fire
Image: Alois Litzlbauer

Advent is considered a “staple” time, but for fire fighters it is anything but quiet and contemplative. One in five fires in private households is caused by candles, half of which happen in the run-up to Christmas, as statistics from the Upper Austrian Fire Prevention Agency show.

Use in Munderfing

Unfortunately, this was also the case on Saturday evening in Munderfing in the Braunau district. An 86-year-old lit the first candle of the Advent wreath that was standing on the kitchen table. When the pensioner lay down to sleep, she no longer thought about putting out the flame.
About an hour later, the woman from Innviertel woke up and noticed the acrid smell of burning. When she checked the kitchen, the Advent wreath on the kitchen table was already ablaze.

The 86-year-old left the apartment and called her granddaughter, who in turn immediately alerted the fire department. 24 helpers from the Munderfing and Achenlohe volunteer fire departments responded and were able to quickly bring the fire under control and extinguish it. The damage caused by smoke and soot is likely to be considerable.

Needles dry out quickly

The needles of Advent wreaths contain essential oils that act like an accelerant. Experts from the Upper Austrian Fire Prevention Agency (BVS) recently warned that the risk of fire increases as the Christmas holidays approach. Because the Advent wreaths dry out quickly in heated living spaces and then burn like tinder.

The most common mistakes are leaving candles burning unattended and leaving the flames too close to the fir branches, according to BVS director Arthur Eisenbeiß. It is recommended to place the Advent wreath on a non-flammable surface. It also doesn’t hurt to always have a bucket of water ready.

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