Cats caused a total of 107 house fires between January 2019 and November 2021, officials say
Cats caused a total of 107 house fires between January 2019 and November 2021, officials from the Seoul Metropolitan Fire and Disaster Department declared in a statement.
The majority of the fires are believed to have been caused by the feline animals after they switched on electric stoves in the kitchen with their paws, reported The Korea Herald.
Of these, almost half of the cases took place when owners were out of their house, the report added.
Home appliances, such as electric induction cookers, can be switched on with ease by the paws of an animal as they have touch-sensitive buttons.
“Cat-started fires are continuing to be reported these days. We advise pet owners to pay extra attention to fire risks,” department official Chung Gyo-chul was quoted saying.
Officials said at least four people were injured in the reported incidents.
Owners have also been advised to remove flammable objects like paper towels from the stove. Officials suggested cat owners use electric stoves which come with an automatic lock function to reduce the risk of fire.
The data shared by the fire department indicated a surge in pet-related house fires in Seoul in the last couple of years.
At least 31 such incidents were reported between January and September 2019, a sharp rise from just seven cases in 2017.
But the problem of pet-related domestic fire incidents extends beyond South Korea as the US reports a far higher ratio each year.
Data from the American Humane Association shows pets cause nearly 1,000 house fires every year.
The association has asked pet owners to take preventive steps like reducing open flame exposure, putting covers on stove knobs, securing loose wires and setting glass bowls away from wooden perches.