Open House Tragedy Diverted!!

Real Estate Agent with RE/MAX Realty Services

I was out showing homes a few Sundays back.  My first time home buyers and I are out on a glorious day looking at houses.  We saw some good ones and some not so good. 

We pulled up to a listing that was an open house.  The agent had just arrived and she was getting the house all ready for her open.  She was turning on the lights, opening the blinds.  She had started up stairs and told us to make ourselves at home and look around.  So we did.

The house was in great shape, staged, updates - a truly loved home.  We were upstairs looking at the bedrooms and I kept thinking "I smell smoke?"  We looked around and didn't see anything.  I looked again and thought, "I still smell smoke."  I thought maybe there is a candle somewhere?

Well, there was a candle,  It was the prettiest, nice smelling candle just a burning away., minding it's own business.   Not only was IT burning, it was starting to burn the bottoms of the towels hanging above the toilet!!  A fire had started.  It was not a huge fire, but we grabbed the towels and threw them in the sink and turned the water on.  All was good, just some ruined towels and a smokey house.

We helped the agent open the windows to let the smoke out.  She was so upset and glad that we were there.  She got herself so upset about what could have happened if she lit the candle and went back downstairs and the fire could have really turned into something more serious.

My clients did not buy the house, but for other reasons.  It was a very nice home.

It is funny now, but scary then.  Glad nothing serious happened. Be careful with Candles in open house.


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Audrey June-Forshey
RE/MAX Realty Services - Darnestown, MD
GRI, Gaithersburg, MD

Kathy, I think it was really lucky we were there at the exact moment that those towels started burning.   Scary to think of what could have happened.

Sep 04, 2008 01:14 AM #16
Janice Sutton
1st Stage Property Transformations - Murrieta, CA
Home Stager - Temecula Murrieta

I am glad there was a happy ending...even though no sale. Great reminder about the dangers of staging with candles!  You may want to post this in the Stage it Forward Group.

Sep 04, 2008 04:11 AM #17
Ryan Martin
Windermere Real Estate / Whatcom Inc. - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham Commercial RE Broker

Yikes!!!   You came out as a hero on this one. Could you imagine sitting at an open house and having a fire start? That would be pretty scary.

Sep 04, 2008 04:53 AM #18
Audrey June-Forshey
RE/MAX Realty Services - Darnestown, MD
GRI, Gaithersburg, MD

Ryan, We were so lucky.  I knew I smelled the smoke, but couldn't figure out where it was coming from for  a few minutes.  You never know how big the flame can get on those candles.

Janice, So true.  I reposted this to the Staging it Forward group, thanks for the suggestion.

Sep 04, 2008 10:23 AM #19
Ginger Foust
Certified Staging Professional - Oakhurst, CA
Home Stager Oakhurst CA, Dream Interior Redesign & Staging

Audrey, for just this reason my staging contract states: Candles provided WILL NOT BE BURNED and I give that info. to the agent too.  I also clip back the wicks so that can't be lit.  No matter how much ambience they create it's just not worth the chance of something like you experienced.  Thanks for sharing it with us here on SIF. 

Sep 04, 2008 11:40 AM #20
Lindsay Pendleton
Relocating To Baton Rouge & Surrounding Areas - Baton Rouge, LA
Marketing Agent - Property Management in Baton Rou

Whoa, that would have been terrible if she burned the house down, thank goodness you were there to save the day!

Sep 05, 2008 05:00 AM #21
Cindy Eanes
1st Choice Realty Group - Chesterfield, VA
Realtor - e-PRO, SFR, ASP

Hey Audrey June,  Good thing you were there and saved the day.  What a terrible situation this could have turned into!  You've also given us all a great reminder to watch our candles at Open Houses. Thanks again for being so "bright" yourself.  Get it??  I know, not really so funny--jsut couldn't help myself!!  Have a great day!


Sep 08, 2008 08:18 AM #22
Karen Otto
Home Star Staging - Plano, TX
Plano Home Staging, Dallas Home Staging,

Scary but I can believe it happened. We had a kitchen fire happen when I was younger but not with candles. A pot on the stove had evaporated and ignited the contents of the pot, the pot holders hanging next to the stove were above the pot and caught fire which sent flames up the side of the stove top. Thankfully my dad put it out but not without getting some serious burns himself. It's a hard lesson but thankfully no serious damage was done.

Thanks for sharing! It happens quicker than you realize.

Sep 08, 2008 09:29 AM #23
Audrey June-Forshey
RE/MAX Realty Services - Darnestown, MD
GRI, Gaithersburg, MD

Ginger, Aren't you so smart to have that in your contracts.  It was scary.

Thanks, Lindsay.

Cindy, Yes,  I get it.  How are you doing?  I need to check on you.  Have you been posting yet?

Karen, You are right about fire.  It can move so much faster than we think.  When you watch a contained fire you don't get the same sense of how dangerous it can be when it is wild.  Thank goodness your dad got the fire out.  Scary stuff.

Sep 08, 2008 12:47 PM #24
Lorena McMullen
3DX Real Estate - Novi, MI
Serving SE Michigan

That's what I call a hot property!  Glad you caught this and avoided a horrible accident.  I always worry about candles burning at opens and showings; I ask that homeowners do not light candles for obvious reasons stated here and potential buyers 1. may think they are trying to hide/cover a smell 2. some people may be bothered by the smell.  


Sep 09, 2008 01:02 AM #25
Stacey Pierce
Licensed Real Estate Salesperson - Manhattan, NY

WOW!! I am afraid of two things.........dogs and fire! I am glad you were there to help instead of me because I would've left my clients and ran to call 911...from outside!! Glad you are safe!

Sep 12, 2008 03:33 PM #26
Susan Peters
Dove Realty Inc. - Seattle, WA
The Better it Looks the Better it Sells

Hi Aurdrey,

Boy that agent lucked out! I agree with the comments above. You can't leave candles unattended.

                               Light the candles for photos but not for people!

Sep 12, 2008 05:08 PM #27
Brenda Harmon
Century 21 Beal, Inc College Station, Texas - College Station, TX


You really saved the day.  Baked cookies but not towels I think are better.

Nov 11, 2008 04:12 AM #28
Abby Roselli
ALR Home Staging and Showcasing, LLC - Staten Island, NY
Staten Island Home Stager

Lighting candles is a disaster waiting to happen.  Luckily you diverted disaster!!!!! The candles I use as staging props are for 'looks' only...not for lighting.  I don't even light them for pictures. 

Tart warmers that use small, electric night-light type bulbs to melt the wax tarts, which smell fabulous, are a much safer option.   Yankee Candle sells the tarts and the burners, although you can search them online and find other varieties.

Nov 11, 2008 07:12 AM #29
Kathy Riggle
Houston Home Staging

This is very scary, indeed.  I also have in my staging contract that candles are for display only & may not be lit.  Glad you were there to prevent tragedy.

Nov 11, 2008 07:49 AM #30
Robyn Guinn
StageAZ - Phoenix, AZ
Home staging, Arizona

OMG, that is pretty scary.   The realtor must have been scared to death when she realized what could have happened.  Right place, right time!

Nov 11, 2008 10:59 AM #31
Chris Ann Cleland
Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA - Bristow, VA
Associate Broker, Bristow, VA

Audrey:  You were in the right place at the right time...the right time to divert a catastophre.  I'm glad everyone is okay and that you were there at that moment to handle the problem.

Nov 11, 2008 11:10 AM #32
Audrey June-Forshey
RE/MAX Realty Services - Darnestown, MD
GRI, Gaithersburg, MD

Hi All, You are all so right, how lucky for us to have been there just in the nick of time.  Fire is scary for sure.  Interesting how quickly a fire can start.  I never even thought of this happening.  I am so surprised that so many of you have no candle burning policies, but it makes sense.  Thank for your comments.

Nov 11, 2008 12:00 PM #33
Kym Hough
www.Staged-to-Sell - Danville, CA
Staged to Sell East Bay - Danville, CA

Candles should never be lit and cut the wicks if you decide to use them.

you will be responsible if something happens because of them. ugh. Kym

Nov 11, 2008 01:32 PM #34
Terrylynn Fisher
Dudum Real Estate Group - - Walnut Creek, CA
HAFA Certified, EcoBroker, CRS, CSP Realtor, Etc.

Wow...scarey.  Candles and cutlery are a big NO NO for selling a home.  Lucky you were there and quick, and went with your gut not to just dismiss your feeling that something was wrong.  Thank goodness for your quick action that day.

Nov 11, 2008 04:17 PM #35
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GRI, Gaithersburg, MD
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