What are the Signs of an Electrical Fire?

Any fire on your premises is an emergency, but electrical fires are a certain type of blaze that can be particularly hazardous.  

Due to their common ignition sources, such as extension cords, wall sockets, wiring and more, electrical fires are one of the fastest-spreading fires and can quickly go from a small spark to complete devastation.

It only takes around 30 seconds for a small electrical fire to ravage your property, so it’s essential that you understand what to look out for and know how to identify the common signs of an electrical fire so you can act fast and prevent it from spreading.     

In this article, the team here at Millennium Fire Protection will look at the signs of an electrical fire and explain what you should do if one occurs on your property. 

Plug socket on fire

What are the signs of an electrical fire?

An electrical fire is a type of fire that has been caused by electricity or an electrical fault in an appliance. They can occur in wires, cables and sockets, as well as through faulty equipment such as computers and laptops.

Commercial properties are particularly vulnerable to electrical fires as they’re likely to feature significantly more electrical items than domestic ones. This can even include specific electrical rooms, such as server rooms for computer systems. 

Some common signs of an electrical fire, or that one could soon occur, include:

Strange sounds

As electricity travels through appliances and wiring, it is known to make a sizzling sound. While this is not always a sign that anything is wrong, if you notice particularly loud or strange sounds coming from your walls or electrical outlets it might be a sign that something isn’t right. 

This is particularly the case if the sound is accompanied by the smell of burning.  

Burning smells 

Staying with burning smells, and this is perhaps one of the most obvious signs of an electrical fire, especially if the smell is coming from electrical outlets. If the smell persists over a long period of time, you should switch off all electrical equipment if it is safe to do so.

Tripped fuses 

When an excessive amount of electricity is flowing through an appliance, fuses and circuit breakers will trip, meaning they’ll turn off, to prevent a dangerous amount of electricity from causing damage or even injury.       

If fuses are consistently being tripped, this could be a sign of an electrical fire, or that one may occur in the future. You should always consult an electrician in these circumstances. 

Hot outlets

Heat is a normal byproduct of electricity, but if you find that your electrical outlets or appliances are becoming excessively hot or overheated, it might be a sign that an electrical fire is on the way. This is even more likely if you notice the outlets have become discoloured.   


If you see sparks, or even flames, coming from electrical appliances or devices, this is the most obvious sign of an electrical fire. Unfortunately, it’s also the most dangerous as the fire has likely already started. 

In these circumstances, it is vital to act fast. Douse the blaze with an electrical fire extinguisher if it is safe to do so. If not, swiftly evacuate the premises and call the emergency services immediately. 

What extinguisher should I use in an electrical fire?

With so many extinguisher options available, people often wonder which fire extinguisher is used for an electrical fire.

There are only two types of extinguishers that are suitable for handling an electrical fire. These are CO2 extinguishers and dry powder extinguishers. It’s important that no other extinguishers are used. This is because other types typically use water or foam that can conduct electricity and cause the fire to spread or even cause harm to the person attempting to extinguish it. 


Here at Millennium Fire Protection, we have more than 50 years of combined experience supporting commercial organisations across Harrow, Ealing, Watford and beyond with fire safety. This includes ensuring you have the right fire extinguishers in the right place to handle any type of blaze. Furthermore, we even offer a fire risk assessment service that will help you to identify the signs of an electrical fire and prevent them from happening in the first place. For more information, contact our expert team today.