Nobody should ever be shamed for losing things in a fire.
It's an awful, unexpected occurrence. But, it is preventable, and not all fires are started in uncontrollable or unexpected ways.
Here were some of those answers.
The Wrong Workshop
In the city of Colorado Springs, the local news did a fluff piece about candle safety near Christmas. After they were done filming , the store owner that they were filming in took the crew out to breakfast. She didn't put out the candles, and burned several shops to the ground. The film crew was there to film her breakdown when they realised what caused the fire.
Just Dumb Sometimes
I worked for a restoration company. A family cut a small tree down and tried to stuff it up their fireplace to burn. The flue was so crammed with leaves that smoke started to fill the living room. They tried to pull the tree out and that's when it REALLY caught fire. They tried to pull it out of the house, they got as far as the front door. All of them had 2nd/3rd degree burns on their hands/arms and the fire destroyed the front room and entry way of their house. The insurance company asked us if we thought it was a case of fraud, and we told them "No these people are just really stupid".
One Should Always Try To Stop Fires
A roomba knocked a scented candle over and set fire to the rest of the room. The guy said he knew the roomba did it because he watched the whole thing happen, but didn't do anything because he thought it was funny.
Yes, Cardboard Is Flammable
Teenager was charcoal grilling in the attached garage during the winter. When done he decided the best place to dispose of the hot coals was into a cardboard box in front corner of the garage closest to the house. Yeah, it went about as well as you can imagine.
When my father in law was a kid, he really wanted to have a camp fire. His parents told him no. He was determined to have a camp fire so he went up to his room and started one under his bed so they wouldn't know. I keep that knowledge in my back pocket for whenever he wants to imply I'm an idiot.
Insurance Policy Covers Dumb, Don't You Worry
A fairly common one, but the response was interesting!
Early February, Western PA. Guy's pipes freeze on the coldest day of the year, -8F.
He tries to thaw them with a propane torch. Sets the wall on fire.
Tries to put the fire out. Fails. Finally calls 911.
Fire Chief is 1/2 block away. Is on-scene in under a minute. Basement is fully involved, main floor catching.
First engine arrives in under 5 minutes. Doors are blocked by fire, exterior attack only.
I'm on an attack line, spraying water into the 2nd-floor window. After 40 minutes, another firefighter comes to relieve me, but since I'd been getting backspray, I'm frozen to the ground. He has to pull me loose.
2 hours later, we have it knocked down. The insurance adjuster shows up. Asst. Chief explains what started the fire.
Adjuster replies, "Oh, yeah, we know. It's OK, we insure for Stupid!"
(Nobody got hurt. Family gets a much nicer house out of the deal.)
She Never Took Science
My Dad was a firefighter, and he once went to a house fire that was started by the old lady who lived there. She liked to burn candles, but didn't like the wax buildup that would form in the cavity, so she would soak up the liquid wax with a napkin. She was doing this when she accidentally brushed a wax soaked napkin up against the flame. She panicked and threw the napkin into the trash . . . where all the other wax napkins were. As the trashcan exploded into flames she fled the house, but not before she went to her oxygen tanks and FLOODED THE HOUSE WITH PURE OXYGEN, because she thought that it would smother the fire.
Are We Blacksmiths?
I am a firefighter but this wasn't in my district. A guy was attempting to forge a sword in a burn barrel in an alley, based on something he watched on the History Channel. The embers from the "forge" lit up the building he lived in and destroyed 3 multi family residential buildings.
Not a house fire, but really good!
Late 1980s. Guy was driving an old, beat-up Lincoln. He turned a corner to go up a steep hill, but the road dept. had recently ground the asphalt down in preparation to repave. A storm sewer manhole cover was sticking up about 4". As he went over it and up the hill, the rear of his car dragged due to the pavement height difference, and the manhole ripped open his fuel tank and sparked off the gas.
Guy described it- "I heard a scraping sound, looked in the mirror, and there was this trail of FIRE chasing me up the hill, like I was the Road Runner!"
He pulled into a gravel parking lot and tried to kick a break in the trail before the fire got there, but it jumped the gap and lit the car. By the time we got there, it was a total loss.
He actually thought it was kind of funny. The only real loss was his wife's purse, with her license and credit cards. The car was insured, and they got a pretty nice payout for it.
This happened this past fall, but a family had a "fairy house" that was outside, right next to their wood sides house. The fairy house was made out of an old tree, and had a bunch of decorations in it, including incense candles. One evening, they decided that they would light the candles for the fairy's, which then caught the tree on fire, which then extended into the house. Since it started on the outside, it ran up the side of the house and got into the attic and second floor. The family was home, but in the first floor while this was happening, it wasn't until someone driving on the road saw the smoke and went to alert the family. Luckily, we were able to save the structure, there was a bit of damage to the roof, attic and second floor, but the homeowners are rebuilding those areas.