Fires started by furnaces have been a major factor in losses associated with residential and commercial property. The beginning of the heating season usually brings a rash of fire losses as marginal equipment that survived the previous season fails, causing a fire. During the heating season[,] as cold spells occur, marginal equipment is often over stressed, resulting in a fire. After a thorough burn pattern analysis is performed on the building and a preliminary assessment indicates a furnace related fire, a closer look at the furnace installation may be fruitful. The following is a listing of some typical fire causation modes associated with furnace (and boiler) fire losses that may be helpful in a causation analysis:
Combustible Material near the Furnace
Some furnace rooms act as a depository for the cardboard boxes, garbage and other combustible materials. Placing these items close to a furnace can cause a fire as a result of heat transfer from the furnace or flame follout from the draft diverter. Check for the remains of unusual combustible material near the furnace. Inquire as to what was in the furnace room at the time of the fire.