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Topical Fire Report Series May 2021 | Volume 21, Issue 2

Residential Building Fires (2017‑2019)

The residential building portion of the fire problem is of great national importance, as it accounts for the vast majority of civilian casualties. This report describes the characteristics of all residential building fires reported to the National Fire Incident Reporting System for 2017‑2019.

Download the full 18-page report

At a Glance

From 2017 to 2019, an estimated
residential building fires
were reported to U.S. fire departments each year.

These fires caused an estimated:

2,770 deaths


11,650 injuries


$8.1 billion

in property loss

steaming pan

At 51%, cooking was the leading cause of residential building fires. Nearly all (93%) residential building cooking fires were small, confined fires.

January calendar

Residential building fire incidence was higher in the cooler months, peaking in January at 10%.

clock face with 5 to 8 emphasized

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.

stove fire

Nonconfined residential building fires most of ten started in cooking areas and kitchens (21%).

house with a flame on top half of it

In 50% of nonconfined residential building fires, the fire extended beyond the room of origin.

The leading reported factor contributing to ignition category in nonconfined residential building fires was misuse of material or product (37%).