Bed Bugs are a Surprisingly Common Cause of Property Fires

Rubbing alcohol is a well-known home remedy for bed bugs, but it’s also a highly volatile liquid. Flammable alcohol and open flames make a dangerous combination, however when faced with an invasion of bed bugs, some people take desperate measures to control the outbreak – with devastating consequences.Attempts to eliminate bed bugs using fire have frequently resulted in uncontrolled blazes, often leaving homes in ruin.

Experts caution that the safest approach is to hire a professional bed bug controller, however even the professionals sometimes get it wrong. In 2011, a family home in Cincinnati was burned to the ground after a heater being used by an exterminator to kill bedbugs accidentally set fire to the carpet.

Over the years, we’ve seen many alarming headlinesabout families whose homes were incinerated while attempting to eradicate these resilient pests. In this article, we’ve rounded up some of the top news stories in which bed bugs were the cause of catastrophic property fires.

2009, New York City: Bed Bug Infested Mattresses and Children Doused in Gasoline

In 2009, NYCfirefighters were called in to investigateunusually strong petroleum smells emanating from apartment homes. They discovered mattresses soaked with kerosene and gasoline, as well as some children who had been doused with accelerants in an attempt to killbed bugs. In this case, no fires or loss of life were reported, which is fortunate considering the fact that gasoline fumes can easily ignite from sparks caused by switching on lights, or from static electricity on clothes and carpets.

March 2012, Indianapolis: Men Set Home Ablaze After Deliberately Burning Infested Furniture

Two men renting an Indianapolis homeaccidentally set it on fire after carrying three couches into the back yard and setting them ablaze. Flames from the bed bug infested furniture leapt into the home, causing a conflagration that resulted in thousands of dollars worth of damage.

June 2012, Kentucky: 30 People Left Homeless after Bed Bug Related Fire

Fire officials say a woman from Carlisle, Kentucky, soaked her furniture in alcohol in an attempt to eradicate bed bugs. Unfortunately her personal pest extermination efforts ended badly when she then dropped a lit cigarette on the couch, igniting a devastating blaze throughout the apartment complex. Thirty residents were left homeless, and four were treated for smoke inhalation.

April 2015, New York: Man Sets Fire to Multiple Cars While Attempting to Kill Bed Bugs

A 44-year-old New York resident was hospitalized with second-degree burns after he set fire to three vehicles while trying attempting to eliminate bed bugs from a rental car. The man soaked the interior of the vehicle with alcohol, hoping to destroy the insects, but after lighting a cigarette the upholstery caught fire and the blaze quickly spread to two nearby vehicles.

April 2015, Columbus, Ohio: Home Destroyed in Fiery Bed Bug Battle

A family of six had a lucky escape in 2015 when their Columbus home was engulfed with flames following a bed bug infestation. According to owner Fred Horne, his son accidentally started the fire. “We sprayed the couch earlier with some alcohol you buy from the drug store which kills them on contact, and he was chasing one down with a lighter and the couch caught fire. My beard started singeing, my eyebrows. I said we’ve got to make it out the back door!” said Horne. The family attempted to remove the couch, but it became trapped in the doorway, spreading the fire to the entire house.Fire investigators say three children and three adults were inside North Harris Avenue home when the blaze started at around 1:00 a.m.

February 2016, Candia, New Hampshire: Man Accused of Arson Says Bed Bugs are to Blame

A 59-year-old Candia man suspected of arson says he poured gasoline around his home to combat an outbreak of bed bugs. Stephen Gracyalny claims he ignited the gasoline deliberately because his wife was suffering from terrible bite marks,and he was worried they might cause an infection. Gracyalny told detectives he had tried contactingpest exterminators about the problem but was told he would have to remove all his belongings from the property.

August 2016, Springfield: Attempt to Kill Bed Bugs With Fire Leads to Fatality

Fire marshalssay an attempt to eliminate bed bugs resulted in a devastating property fire that left one man dead in north Springfield. Fifty-two-year-old Michael Kessler died and a woman was hospitalized with minor injuries. The blaze began in a bedroom where Kessler had been using chemicals to control a bed bug infestation. When he noticed a bed bug, Kessler attempted to burn it, accidentally setting the room on fire. Several pets also perished in the blaze.

2016, Detroit: Man Sets Himself on Fire While Treating Home for Bed Bugs

A Detroit man was so frustratedwith bedbugs in his apartment that he sprayed alcohol on his body and couch in an attempt to wipe them out. Unfortunately he then sat on the alcohol-soaked couch, lit a cigarette, and tried to burn one of the bugs. Within minutes, neighbors heard screams from the unit as the property was engulfed in flames. By the time firefighters managed to control the blaze, four apartments in the St. Antoine complex had been destroyed, and dozens suffered water damage. The man who caused the fire was hospitalized with severe burns.

 July 2017, Kansas: Woman Sets Apartment on Fire Trying to Kill Bed Bug With Lighter

A Kansas woman set her apartment aflame while attempting to kill a bed bug by burning it with a cigarette lighter. Monique Quarles told reporters she was at home with her daughter when they noticed a large bug under the mattress. “When I grabbed the bug and I had it, I went to light it and then the lighter started sparking, so these sparks then went onto the box springs,” she informed the local newspaper. They tried to extinguish the blaze, but it spread rapidly throughout the apartment.Topeka Fire Department officials said 17 neighbors were also evacuated, and one person was treated for smoke inhalation. The damage bill is expected to reach$140,000.

September 2017, North Carolina: Bed Bugs to Blame For Devastating Property Fire

A recent catastrophicblaze in North Carolina has been blamed on bed bugs. Fire investigators believe the fire broke out in a room where the family had sprayed rubbing alcohol to eradicate a bed bug infestation. Flames destroyed the Gaston Countyhome and forcedthe occupants, a woman and her great-grandmother, to evacuate. Fortunately no one was seriously hurt in the incident.

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