Fire claimed approximately 11,800 lives in the United States in 1975, according to preliminary estimates released by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). This represents an increase of about 200 over the number of fire-related deaths in 1974.
Deaths in dwelling fires are estimated at 6800, unchanged from the previous year.
For the first time, the annual value of property lost due to fire exceeded the $4 billion mark. NFPA estimates 1975 dollar losses at $4.4 billion, up sharply from the 1974 total of $3.8 billion. While inflation continues to be a factor in rising property loss figures, NFPA studies show the inflated dollar alone does not account for such a large increase in a single year.
The worst loss-of-life fire in the U.S. in 1975 took place Jan. 3 when two tankers collided on the Delaware River at Marcus Hook, Pa., resulting in 25 deaths. Seventeen persons were killed in a fire resulting from a tank truck accident April 30 on a highway near Eagle Pass, Texas.
The largest property losses from fire in 1975 were the Feb. 27 fire at a New York City telephone exchange, and the March 22 fire at the Brown’s Ferry nuclear power plant in Chattanooga, Tenn. Loss in each of these fires has been estimated at more than $70 million.
Arson and incendiary fires continue their recent trend of sharp increases both in number and in the losses they cause, according to statistics compiled by the NFPA.