Basements and attics tend to be dumping grounds for anything people don’t want to deal with at the moment: unneeded cookware, for instance, not to mention outgrown shoes, extra light bulbs, and leftover containers of paint. However, basements are also usually home to furnaces and water heaters, and this is where problems can arise.
Both gas furnaces and gas water heaters maintain a small pilot light to power the appliance. Although small, these pilot lights are still flames, and in the enclosed space of a basement, flammable substances are especially susceptible to accidental ignition. Each year, many fires and explosions are caused by storing flammable substances near a gas-fired appliance, especially water heaters. Exacerbating the issue is the fact that it’s often not the substances themselves that cause the accidental ignition; it’s the fumes from the substances that are flammable enough to ignite.