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Catastrophic multiple-death fires

Report: NFPA's "Catastrophic Multiple-Death Fires in 2017"
Author: Stephen G. Badger
Issued: September 2018


Report highlights

  • Two non-structure fires, both of which were wildland fires, claimed 47 lives or almost 10% of those killed in multiple-death fires.
  • Twenty-one catastrophic multiple-death fires resulted in 150 fatalities.
  • The deadliest fire in 2017 was a wildfire incident that occurred in a Northern California that killed 44 people. 
  • Fourteen of the fires were in homes, resulting in 84 deaths, with 21 of the victims under age six.
  • The deadliest structure fire in 2017 occurred in an apartment building in New York and killed 13 people.
  • Three fires and two explosions occurred in non-home structures and accounted for 19 of the deaths.

Fires in assembly occupancies have shown to be some of the most deadly when the proper features, systems and construction materials were not present. Nightclubs, theaters and auditoriums differ from office buildings because they contain a large number of people in one main space. 


A fire at an Oakland, CA, warehouse killed at least 30 people on December 2, 2016. Warehouses present special challenges for fire protection because their contents and layouts are conducive to fire spread and present obstacles to manual fire suppression efforts. See NFPA's "Structure Fires in U.S. Warehouses" report.

Older versions of the report
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