Report: Most Winter Fires Occur When Residents Cook Dinner


A report issued by the United States Fire Administration (USFA) examines the causes and characteristics of winter residential building fires that occur in January, February and March.

The USFA, a division of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), released “Winter Residential Building Fires” earlier this month.

“Our nation’s residential building fire experience is collectively highest in the winter season,” said Kelvin Cochran, the nation’s fire administrator. “In the first three weeks of this February, 187 civilian fire deaths have been reported to the USFA. It is important each household be prepared and practice fire safety.”

Cooking is the leading cause of winter residential building fires (36 percent), followed by heating (23 percent). Winter residential building fires usually occur during the early evening hours, peaking from 5 to 8 p.m.

Approximately half of winter residential building fires are small incidents that are confined to noncombustible containers and rarely result in serious injury or large content losses. The remainder of these fires spread further. They result in approximately twice the number of fatalities and injuries as all residential building fires.

The report is part of the Topical Fire Report Series and is based on data from the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) from 2005 to 2007. An estimated 108,400 winter residential building fires occur annually in the U.S., resulting in an estimated average of 945 deaths, 3,825 injuries, and $1.7 billion in property loss, according to the report.

Read the full “Winter Residential Building Fires” report.

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