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Topical Fire Report Series November 2018 | Volume 19, Issue 7

Winter Residential Building Fires (2014-2016)

Winter home fires account for a large portion of overall residential fire casualties. This report addresses the characteristics of winter home fires during the months of January, February and March from 2014 to 2016.

Download the 17-page report

At a Glance

Each year, from 2014 to 2016, an estimated


winter residential building fires

were reported to fire departments within the United States. These fires caused an estimated 980 deaths, 3,575 injuries, and $1.9 billion in property loss.

8% house fires

Winter residential building fires accounted for only 8% of the total number of fires in the U.S., but they resulted in 30% of all fire deaths and 23% of all fire injuries.

43% Cooking winter fires

At 43%, cooking was the leading cause of winter residential building fires. Small, confined fires accounted for 90% of these cooking fires.

Fires rise in January, February, & March

Residential building fire incidence was collectively higher in the winter months of January, February and March, peaking in January at 11%.

fires frequent between 5p.m. - 8p.m.

Winter residential building fires occurred most frequently in the early evening, peaking during the dinner hours from 5 to 8 p.m., when cooking fire incidence is high.

20% cooking fires started in kitchen

Nonconfined winter residential building fires most often started in cooking areas and kitchens (20%).

51% fires expand origin location

In 51% of nonconfined winter residential building fires , the fire extended beyond the room of origin. The leading causes of these larger fires were unintentional or careless actions (19%), electrical malfunctions (14%), open flames (12%), and heating (9%).

leading factor in nonresidential fires

The leading specific factor contributing to ignition in nonconfined winter residential building fires was a heat source too close to combustibles (16%).

smoke alarms

Smoke alarms were not present in 22% of nonconfined winter fires in occupied residential buildings. Additionally, automatic extinguishing systems were present in only 4% of nonconfined winter fires in occupied residential buildings.