USFA Releases Vacant Residential Building Fires Report

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Washington, DC — The Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) United States Fire Administration (USFA) issued a special report today examining the characteristics of fires in vacant residential buildings. The report, Vacant Residential Building Fires, was developed by USFA's National Fire Data Center and is further evidence of FEMA's commitment to sharing information with fire departments and first responders around the country to help them keep their communities safe.

The report is part of the Topical Fire Report Series and is based on 2006 to 2008 data from the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS). According to the report, an estimated 28,000 vacant residential building fires occur annually in the United States, resulting in an estimated average of 45 deaths, 225 injuries, and $900 million in property loss. Vacant residential fires are considered part of the residential fire problem as they comprise approximately 7 percent of residential building fires. In addition, intentional is the leading cause of vacant residential building fires which are more prevalent in July (9 percent), due in part to an increase in intentional fires on July 4 and 5. Finally, almost all vacant residential building fires are nonconfined and half spread to involve the entire building.

The topical reports are designed to explore facets of the U.S. fire problem as depicted through data collected in NFIRS. Each topical report briefly addresses the nature of the specific fire or fire-related topic, highlights important findings from the data, and may suggest other resources to consider for further information. Also included are recent examples of fire incidents that demonstrate some of the issues addressed in the report or that put the report topic in context.

For further information regarding other topical reports or any programs and training available at the United States Fire Administration, visit