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House fire statistics

Common causes, costs and number of house fires in America per year.

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picture of a house on fire in flames

While wildfires may capture national headlines, the real threat is everyday housefires. A house fire is reported every 93 seconds in the US, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Additionally, one person is injured in a house fire every 43 minutes, with one person dying every 3 hours and 10 minutes.

How common are fires in the home?

Of the estimated 1,291,500 fires in 2019, 339,500 were residential house fires. This means that house fires account for 26% of all fires in the US. If we look at house fires as a percentage of structural fires, that number jumps to almost 94%.

However, while 339,500 house fires may seem like a lot, it’s actually about 6% less than the previous year. In fact, the number of house fires has gone down considerably since 1980, with 2019 recording the least number of house fires in at least 39 years.

Number of house fires over time

Year Fires
2019 339,500
2018 363,000
2017 357,500
2016 352,000
2015 365,500
2014 367,500
2013 369,500
2012 356,000
2011 370,000
2010 369,500
2009 362,500
2008 386,500
2007 399,000
2006 396,000
2005 381,000
2004 395,500
2003 388,500
2002 389,000
2001 383,500
2000 368,000
1999 371,000
1998 369,500
1997 395,500
1996 417,000
1995 414,000
1994 438,000
1993 458,000
1992 459,000
1991 464,500
1990 454,500
1989 498,500
1988 538,500
1987 536,500
1986 565,500
1985 606,000
1984 605,500
1983 625,500
1982 654,500
1981 711,000
1980 734,000

How much do house fires cost?

In 2019, fires caused an estimated $7.8 billion in property loss, which was down about 3% from the $8 billion in 2018. While the total cost was down in 2019, the average property loss per fire cost went up around 4%, jumping from $22,099 in 2018 to $22,878 in 2019.

Regarding the costliest type of house fire, those with the highest average property lost cost are fires where the cause is currently under investigation — meaning that there’s a suspicion that the fire was deliberately set — at $94,813. The next most costliest house fires are those that are caused by natural events like the sun’s heat or lightning with a price tag of $89,930.

Most common causes of house fires in the US

It will probably come as little surprise that the number one cause of fires in the home is cooking, accounting for 169,500 of all house fires in 2018. This means that almost half (49%) of residential fires can be traced back to the kitchen.

Trailing behind cooking fires are fires caused by heating at 34,400 and unintentional fires, or fires caused by carelessness, with 26,900 fires.

Most common causes of house fires in 2018

Which state has the most deaths from house fires?

Alaskans are most at risk of losing their lives in a house fire, with a rate of 27 people per million perishing in a fire at home. At the other end of the spectrum is New Jersey, where you’re six times less likely to die in a house fire compared to Alaska, with a rate of 4.6 people per million.

Fire death rate by state

State Fire Death Rate Per Million Population (2017)
Alabama 17.2
Alaska 27.0
Arizona 10.4
Arkansas 24.0
California 7.0
Colorado 8.5
Connecticut 6.7
Delaware
District of Columbia 18.7
Florida 7.9
Georgia 14.4
Hawaii 9.8
Idaho 8.1
Illinois 11.4
Indiana 11.9
Iowa 19.4
Kansas 12.4
Kentucky 14.1
Louisiana 19.7
Maine 11.2
Maryland 10.5
Massachusetts 7.1
Michigan 10.0
Minnesota 14.0
Mississippi 19.4
Missouri 17.4
Montana 10.4
Nebraska 8.3
Nevada 7.7
New Hampshire 8.1
New Jersey 4.6
New Mexico 16.7
New York 10.0
North Carolina 14.0
North Dakota 13.2
Ohio 14.1
Oklahoma 15.8
Oregon 11.3
Pennsylvania 13.9
Rhode Island
South Carolina 17.3
South Dakota 20.6
Tennessee 19.4
Texas 8.2
Utah 8.4
Vermont 17.6
Virginia 8.7
Washington 11.6
West Virginia 29.2
Wisconsin 11.2
Wyoming

5 tips for preventing house fires

Taking extra precautions to prevent a fire can keep your home, family and belongings safe.

  • Keep kitchen safety habits. Avoid stepping away from the kitchen while you’re cooking or leaving your children alone in the kitchen, and check to be sure all appliances are off once you leave your cooking space.
  • Have fire gear. Keeping a fire extinguisher and fire blankets in multiple places throughout your house can help tame a small fire before it gets out of control.
  • Install smoke alarms. Install smoke alarms throughout your home, and check that they are working and have battery life periodically.
  • Practice fireplace and candle safety. If you have a fireplace, use a firescreen to prevent embers from ending up on the carpet. Put out your fire and candles before bed.
  • Clean your equipment. Assure your appliances and equipment are clean and in working order. For example, maintain greased pans, remove lint from your dryer’s filter and clean out electrical sockets of dust.

Does homeowners insurance cover house fires?

Most homeowners policies cover house fires and should cover your home and your belongings if your house catches fire. This extends to events ranging from a kitchen fire to lightning strikes and even wildfires.

However, if you live in an area prone to wildfires, check that your policy fully covers wildfires, or look for alternatives.

Methodology

Data for the number of house fires over time and data for 2019 was sourced from Fire Loss in the United States yearly reports by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Data for the cause of house fires and state death rates was sourced from U.S. fire statistics by U.S. Fire Administration.

“Home fires” and “house fires” were used interchangeably and refer to residential structure fires that occurred in one- and two-family homes and multifamily homes as defined by the NFPA. This includes dwellings, duplexes, mobile homes, apartments, row houses and townhouses. Other residential properties, such as hotels and motels, dormitories, barracks, rooming and boarding homes are not included.

Property loss amounts do not include indirect losses such as an interruption in business.

Inflation adjustments to 2019 dollars were done using the consumer price index.

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