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Fire Estimate Summary • April 2021

Residential Building Fire Death Causes (2010‑2019)

This fire estimate summary presents basic data on residential building fire death causes in the United States as depicted through data reported to the U.S. Fire Administration's (USFA's) National Fire Incident Reporting System. The summary also highlights important trends in the data.

National Estimates

The 2019 national estimates for the leading causes of residential building fire deaths show that there were:

  1. 585 other unintentional, careless fire deaths.
  2. 470 cause under investigation fire deaths.
  3. 320 smoking fire deaths.

Overall Trends

Overall trends in the leading fire death causes for the 10-year period of 2010 to 2019 show the following:

  • Other unintentional, careless was the leading cause of residential fire deaths in 9 years out of the 10-year period, and there was a 52% increase in residential other unintentionally or carelessly set fire deaths. In 2018 and 2019, 16 and 18 reported multifatality fire incidents (resulting in 2, 3, 4 or 5 deaths each), respectively, may have contributed to the increase in the estimate of fire deaths.
  • Cause under investigation was the second leading cause of residential fire deaths in 2019, and there was a 67% increase in residential cause under investigation fire deaths. In 2019, 10 reported multifatality fire incidents (resulting in 2, 3 or 4 deaths) may have contributed to the increase in the estimate of fire deaths.
  • A 6% increase in residential smoking fire deaths.

Leading Causes of Residential Building Fire Deaths (2010‑2019)

2010201120122013201420152016201720182019
Other Unintentional, Careless435360295465450440480435545585
Cause Under Investigation230350285275305365405355375470
Smoking350305330320325320375300390320
Intentional260240320320235290260370255265
Electrical Malfunction280280210335325290310200255225