USFA Releases Attic Fires in Residential Buildings Report

The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) issued a special report today examining the characteristics of Attic Fires in Residential Buildings (PDF, 884 Kb). Developed by USFA’s National Fire Data Center, the report is based on 2006 to 2008 data from the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS).

According to the report:

  • An estimated 10,000 attic fires in residential buildings occur annually in the United States, resulting in an estimated average of 30 deaths, 125 injuries, and $477 million in property damage.
  • The leading cause of all attic fires is electrical malfunction (43 percent).
  • The most common heat source is electrical arcing (37 percent).
  • Almost all residential building attic fires are nonconfined (99 percent) and a third of all residential building attic fires spread to involve the entire building.
  • Ninety percent of residential attic fires occur in one- and two-family residential buildings.
  • Residential building attic fires are most prevalent in December (12 percent) and January (11 percent) and peak between the hours of 4 and 8 p.m.

Attic Fires in Residential Buildings is part of the USFA’s Topical Fire Report Series. Topical reports explore facets of the U.S. fire problem that USFA shares with fire departments and first responders around the country to help them keep their communities safe. Each report briefly addresses the nature of the specific fire or fire-related topic, highlights important findings from the data, and may suggest other resources to consider for further information. Also included are recent examples of fire incidents that demonstrate some of the issues addressed in the report or that put the report topic in context.

For further information regarding topical reports or any programs and training available from the U.S. Fire Administration, visit


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