Cats Turn on Gas Stove on Hoyt Street Early Wednesday, Causing Fire; No Smoke Detectors in House


Firefighters early Wednesday morning responded to a structure fire on Hoyt Street that appears to have been caused by cats climbing onto a stove, accidentally switching on the gas with combustibles nearby, officials say.

75 Hoyt St. in New Canaan. Assessor photo

Units arriving at 75 Hoyt St. reported light smoke at the 1911-built Colonial with all occupants out of the home, according to Fire Marshal Fred Baker.

“The homeowners were extremely lucky as there were no working smoke detectors present in the home,” Baker said.

EMTs from the New Canaan Volunteer Ambulance Corps treated the home’s occupants on scene for minor smoke inhalation, while New Canaan Police handled traffic control on the short residential street near the downtown, Baker said.

Inside the home, firefighters encountered a small fire in the wall of the kitchen that they quickly extinguished, he said, then worked to ensure that no hot embers remained. The stove uses propane, he said.

“The New Canaan Fire Department reiterates the critical value of properly installed and operating smoke and CO detectors,” Baker said.

Those wishing for a free home visit to advise on proper installation may call the Fire Marshal’s Office at 203-594-3030.

5 thoughts on “Cats Turn on Gas Stove on Hoyt Street Early Wednesday, Causing Fire; No Smoke Detectors in House

  1. I want to thank the New Canaan Police Department and the New Canaan Fire Department for their quick response to finish extinguishing the fire. Thank goodness it was very minor damage and the Fire Department installed new smoke detectors right away as the one I did have did not work. And I did go buy a new stove that has locking knobs on it which I recommend for all persons who purchase a gas stove. that should be required on all gas stoves and made a law to required on all manufacturers. Especially if you have cats and children and elderly.

  2. Cats plural did this? So they cooperated to switch on the gas?

    Or they each coincidentally switched on a separate gas nob each?

    Either way, the real story here is that this is animal behavior that has never before been observed in the wild or in suburbia.

    Social cooperation between cats is normally limited to grooming, cleaning and hunting together, and this is a built in instinct that is developed further via social interaction and imitation within the pride.

    The fact that these two cats, there could be more but the article wasn’t clear, were able to take this next leap in evolutionary development is quite astounding and should be immediately reported to the Royal Society for Animal Behavioral Science or it’s North American equivalent and further research should be funded.

    Thank you,

    An interested reader.

  3. This reminds me of the State Farm commercial ‘Hot Dog’–a dog caused a fire in a similar way, going for pizza that had been left on the stove. Funny commercial, but ever since, I have been VERY careful not to leave the house with anything on the stove. We have a dog, 2 cats here, and a propane stove. We have both smoke and CO detectors. But if one is not home to hear it go off, one could still have a fire. I’m glad the fire wasn’t worse.

  4. Justin T: Not true! According to AKC and ADT approximately 1,000 house fires annually are caused by pets.

    My sister and I owned many cats during a period of over 50 years (she has 6 right now). The first thing she did was remove all knobs from her stove because they can stretch and reach them. Stove knob covers will also prevent children and pets from accidentally starting a stove fire.

    Cats (and dogs) are very clever. They may try to get to food on the stove and accidentally grab the stove knob. Some dogs and cats can turn and open door knobs, too. One of my cats regularly slept on the pilot light of the stove to stay warm.

    Below is an excerpt from an article written by the American Kennel Club in 2010.


    – New Data Says Pets Start Nearly 1,000 Fires Each Year –

    New York – July 12, 2010 – An estimated 500,000 pets are affected annually by home fires, however, nearly 1,000 house fires each year are accidentally started by the homeowners’ pets, according to a new data analysis by the National Fire Protection Association.

    The American Kennel Club® (AKC®) and ADT Security Services have joined forces once again for the third annual National Pet Fire Safety Day (July 15) to spread awareness about how pets can start home fires but more importantly how to prevent them.

    “Not many pet owners realize that their pet can actually be the cause of a devastating fire,” said AKC spokesperson Lisa Peterson. “Simple preventative measures, such as flameless candles and stove knob covers, can mean the difference between life and death for your four-legged friends.”

    Chris and Kay Wardlow of Oklahoma know that all too well. Their curious dog Lucy was home alone and spied a cake on the stove top. As Lucy tried to get a taste, her paw accidentally hit the stove knob and turned on the gas burner that was under the cake pan. Within minutes, the house was filled with smoke, triggering the Wardlow’s ADT monitored smoke detector. Firefighters were called to the scene, the house was saved and Lucy was rescued.

    “Planning for unexpected emergencies like home fires and taking these precautions are an integral part of responsible pet ownership,” Peterson said.

    AKC® and ADT offer the following tips to educate pet owners on how to prevent your beloved pet from starting a fire, as well as how to keep your pets safe.

    Prevent your pet from starting fires
    Extinguish open flames – Pets are generally curious and will investigate cooking appliances, candles, or even a fire in your fireplace. Ensure your pet is not left unattended around an open flame and make sure to thoroughly extinguish any open flame before leaving your home.

    Remove stove knobs – Be sure to remove stove knobs or protect them with covers before leaving the house. According to the National Fire Protection Association, a stove or cook top is the number one piece of equipment involved in your pet starting a fire.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *