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Home Electrical Fires

Report: NFPA's "Electrical Fires"
Author: Richard Campbell
Issued: March 2019


Report highlights

Electrical failures or malfunctions were the second leading cause of U.S. home fires in 2012-2016 (behind fires caused by unattended equipment), accounting for 13% of home structure fires. 

  • Fires involving electrical failures or malfunctions accounted for the highest share of civilian deaths (18%) and direct property damage (20%).
  • Nearly two of five fires (39%) involving electrical failure or malfunction occurred in the cold weather months from November through February.
  • Arcing was the heat source in approximately three of five home fires involving an electrical failure or malfunction.

Electrical distribution and lighting equipment was the third leading form of equipment involved in fires in U.S. homes in 2012-2016, accounting for 10% of fires (behind cooking equipment and heating equipment). 

  • Non-confined home fires involving electrical distribution and lighting equipment most often originated in a bedroom (17% of total), attic or ceiling (12%), or a wall assembly or concealed space (9%).
  • Approximately one-quarter (24%) of these fires occurred between midnight and 8 a.m., but these fires accounted for 60% of deaths.


Home fires involving electrical failure or malfunction by time of day

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