One of the biggest contributors to tragedies such as house fires is always either lack of knowledge or ignorance to your surroundings. Not to say that people are always to blame, but in order to prevent a house fire from ever occurring, there are steps that can be taken in order to do so. First and foremost, you should always keep a close eye on everything that is taking place in your house. Make sure that everything is shut off and no appliances that generate heat are left running.
Next, make sure to stay up to date and check the systems in your house. Electrical systems, air conditioning/heating units and natural gas systems could all be potential causes of a house fire, because anything from a short in your electrical box, to a faulty pilot light in your furnace, to a broken electric motor in your air condition unit could spark a flame that will ignite a huge problem in your home.
If you have a fireplace, make sure that you maintain it correctly by inspecting the fire box for things like cracks or damaged sheet metal. Burn dry, seasoned wood to prevent the creosote buildup in the chimney and remove ash or unburned wood when sparks or embers have completely dissipated so you can place them outside away from your house.
Keep any type of flammable house products away from ignition sources such as heaters, stoves, etc. Your safest bet would be to keep these types of items outside and away from anything that can generate heat or has a pilot light as part of it. Lastly, make sure to be very careful when using an extension cord for any reason or any extended period of time.
At any time one of these many cords tangled together in an electrical mess could become damaged and cause real potential for a fire. However, if you follow all of these safety measures and continue to periodically check up on things of this nature, your chances of experiencing a devastating house fire are severely decreased.