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Fire Estimate Summary • April 2021

Residential Building Fire Dollar-Loss Causes (2010‑2019)

This fire estimate summary presents basic data on residential building fire dollar loss 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 dollar loss show that there was:

  1. $1,570,900,000 loss from other unintentional, careless fires.
  2. $1,208,300,000 loss from electrical malfunction fires.
  3. $645,400,000 loss from open flame fires.

Overall Trends

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

  • Other unintentional, careless was the leading cause of residential fire dollar loss for the 10-year period, and there was a 30% increase in residential other unintentionally or carelessly set fire dollar loss. In 2018 and 2019, there were 33 and 30 incidents, respectively, with a reported dollar loss of $1,000,000 or more, which may have contributed to the continued increase in fire dollar loss.
  • A 9% increase in residential electrical malfunction fire dollar loss. In 2018 and 2019, there were 32 and 14 incidents, respectively, with a reported dollar loss of $1,000,000 or more, which may have contributed to the continued increase in fire dollar loss. The 2019 high dollar loss fires included a $26,400,000 hotel fire in New Orleans, Louisiana.
  • A 5% decrease in residential open flame fire dollar loss.
  • The spike in the 2016 residential exposure fire dollar loss is attributed in part to the Gatlinburg, Tennessee, wildfires.
The overall constant dollar-loss trends take inflation into account by adjusting each year's dollar loss to its equivalent 2019 value.

Leading Causes of Residential Building Fire Dollar Loss (2010‑2019)

Adjusted to 2019 Dollars ($millions)

2010201120122013201420152016201720182019
Other Unintentional, Careless1330122612461142118613411249144116091571
Electrical Malfunction11881161907101410041024966110312501208
Open Flame708687703617664664567661737645
Other Heat593557648487506716427546643524
Natural504553699409523488499488527517
Cause Under Investigation402413406480389423471478489450
Intentional573547593519417424432770567441
Exposure2984023326064264631241535319410