Renewed interest in candles has contributed to the increase in accidents.
By CAROL TANNEHILL
KNIGHT RIDDER NEWSPAPERS
A relaxing soak, an elegant dinner party or a romantic rendezvous could easily go up in smoke -- if you forget about the candles burning on your bathtub, sideboard or bedside table.
Such accidents are more common than you might think.
In 1999, the most recent year national data on candle fires were analyzed by the National Fire Prevention Association, 15,040 house fires were caused by candles, nearly triple the number in 1990. The 1999 fires resulted in 102 deaths, 1,473 injuries and $278 million in property loss, NFPA says.
Candles account for about 4 percent of all house fires.
Candles haven't become more dangerous over the last decade. Rekindled interest in candles is the reason for the increase in blazes caused by candles.
Each year, more folks are lavishing their mantels, boudoirs, bathtubs, backyards and dining tables with romantic candlelight and intoxicating aromas.
Candles are used regularly in nearly seven out of 10 American homes, says the National Candle Association, a trade association based in Washington, D.C.
U.S. shoppers -- mostly women -- spend $2.3 billion annually on candles, not including the accessories that go along with them.
"People especially like the scents" of candles, says Sherry Hamilton, manager of Yankee Candle in Jefferson Pointe, Ind. "They love to walk into a room and smell them. They find it relaxing."
Candle vendors are catering to the growing market.
Specialty stores -- such as Yankee Candle and Wicks & amp; Sticks -- have grown in the last few years. And numerous department stores, craft and party supply stores, home decor stores and florists also sell candles.
The candle trend is so hot, that even fire-hazard stories can't snuff it.