Japanese fire authorities and a major gas appliances manufacturer suspect two fires that occurred in the country in 2022 were started by pet dogs and cats accidentally lighting gas stoves in the kitchen.
According to gas appliances company Paloma Co., headquartered in Nagoya, the fires both involved push-button stoves, which unlike those with rotary switches can be turned on if pets lean on them.
On July 27, a fire occurred and gutted an apartment in Kobe, western Japan, while its occupants, an American couple, were away. The fire, which killed two pet cats, is believed to have been started by one of the animals when its front paw touched the stove button, the local fire authorities said.
Two days later in Toyota, Aichi Prefecture in central Japan, a fire damaged the walls and ceiling of the office of a pet-related business. Firefighters found the cooking stove button had been turned on and a nearby dog food container was severely burned.
The owner of the business in her 60s said the fire occurred while she was away from the office for half an hour and her seven large dogs had access to the kitchen.
She said she fenced off the kitchen and replaced the gas stove with one that uses a rotary switch after the fire.
In addition to the two incidents, the involvement of pets was also suspected in 18 fires across the country since 2014, according to the governmental National Institute of Technology and Evaluation.
There were few such fires before 2014 and the institute believes the increase in recent years is linked to the increasing number of pets being kept indoors and the spread of push-button stoves that allow for easier flame adjustment.
An official of the institute said users of such cooking stoves should close the main valves when they are not in use or use locking functions.