Milwaukee and state see increase in house fires in 2021, officials say

NOW: Milwaukee and state see increase in house fires in 2021, officials say

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- In Milwaukee and across Wisconsin, there were more house fires in 2021 than in the previous year, and winter is still the time of year when most fires occur. 

In November across Wisconsin, the American Red Cross responded to 45% more house fires than in October. 

Justin Kern, the communications director for the Red Cross of Wisconsin, said it is not uncommon as it gets colder outside. More fires are caused in the winter months because of things like furnaces, fireplaces and Christmas decorations.

"It's also the cooking fires. A lot of times it's people making a lot of food, and a lot of people around." said Kern. "Those are just some of the things connected to the holiday that really add to the numbers this time of year."

Kern said his team has already helped 320 families displaced during this holiday season, a number on trend to meet or exceed 2020's three-year high. 

Kern says more people were displaced because of more apartment and multi-unit fires. 

"Just people being home more," said Lieutenant Williams with the Milwaukee Fire Department. "Different times that we're living in, more people are home so more things can go wrong." 

Lt. Williams said in Milwaukee alone they've responded to 96,000 calls in 2021 -- 10,000 more than the previous year altogether. 

Fourteen of those were between Monday, Nov. 29 and Sunday, Dec. 5. 

Christmas is still weeks away, and that is peak electrical fire time, Williams said. It's mostly due to overwhelmed circuits. 

"[People are] inside more. They have a lot of TVs. Now you put TVS, then put Christmas lights, you have decorations in the house and it's overwhelmed." 

The Milwaukee Fire Department has some winter safety tips here. 

The American Red Cross says they're always looking for people to assist with different disaster and emergency relief efforts. 

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