An estimated 16,800 intentionally set fires in residential buildings occur annually in the United States, according to the latest report issued by the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA). These fires result in an estimated average of 280 deaths, 775 injuries and $593 million in property loss each year.
The report, Intentionally Set Fires in Residential Buildings (2008-2010), examines the characteristics of intentionally set fires in residential buildings. The report is part of the Topical Fire Report Series and is based on 2008 to 2010 data from the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS).
According to the report:
- Intentionally set fires accounted for 5 percent of all residential building fires.
- Lighters (22 percent), heat from other open flame or smoking materials (19 percent) and matches (15 percent) were the leading heat sources of intentionally set fires in residential buildings.
- The majority (76 percent) of intentionally set fires in residential buildings occurred in one- or two-family dwellings. An additional 19 percent of fires occurred in multifamily dwellings.
- 41 percent of the intentionally set residential fires occurred in vacant buildings.
- Rubbish, trash and waste (8 percent); magazines, newspapers and writing paper (7 percent); and uncontained flammable liquids or gas (6 percent) were the items most often first ignited in intentionally set fires in residential buildings.