House fire statistics in 2021

House fires happen all over the United States, from California to South Carolina. Here are the facts, figures, and statistics for house fires in the U.S.

Kara McGinley


Kara McGinley

Kara McGinley

Property and Casualty Insurance Expert

Kara McGinley is an insurance editor at Policygenius, specializing in home, auto, and renters insurance. She's been writing about insurance since 2019, and her work and insights have been referenced in Kiplinger and

Updated January 4, 2021|2 min read

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House fire property loss claims are some of the most common and expensive in the United States, and thankfully, homeowners insurance is there to pay out if your home and personal property are damaged.

According to the United States Fire Administration, residential buildings are the leading property type for fire deaths, injuries, and property losses. We broke down the facts and figures surrounding house fires and property loss nationwide.

House fires by the numbers

$8 billion - The estimated amount of property loss from house fires in 2018, according to the NFPA

$79,785 - Average cost of a homeowners insurance claim from fire or lightning damage

49% - The estimated percentage of house fires caused by cooking from 2013 to 2017

19% - The percentage of electrical house fires that resulted in civilian deaths from 2013 to 2017

3.5 - The number of minutes it takes for a house fire to reach over 1,100 degrees Fahrenheit

379,600 - Estimated number of residential fires nationwide in 2018

28,300 - Estimated number of house fires started intentionally from 2013 to 2017

48% - The percentage of Thanksgiving Day house fires that occur between the hours of 10:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M., according to the USFA

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Leading causes of house fires

A house fire can start in a variety of ways — maybe you left the pizza in the oven or you live in a high risk wildfire area. The table below shows the top five leading causes of residential fires, how many were caused, and property loss (in millions) from 2013 to 2017, according to the NFPA.

CauseNumber of house firesDirect property losses (in millions)
Heating equipment50,500$1,096
Electrical distribution & lighting equipment35,000$1,386
Smoking materials (cigarettes, cigars, etc)17,200$479

Source: NFIRS 5.0 and the NFPA fire experience survey.

Cooking is the leading cause of house fires, but electrical distribution and lighting equipment resulted in the most expensive property losses. According to the NFPA, there were more intentionally caused house fires from 2013 to 2017 than there were house fires caused by smoking materials (like cigarettes, cigars, or smoking pipes).

When does homeowners insurance cover house fires?

Homeowners insurance covers fire and smoke damage if a fire destroys or damages your home or personal property. A typical policy covers wildfires, forest fires, electrical fires,, fires caused by lightning, and more. If your home is destroyed by a fire, your homeowners insurance can help pay to rebuild the structure of your home and reimburse you for loss to your personal belongings. Home insurance can also pay for additional living expenses while your home is being repaired.

Learn more about homeowners insurance and fire damage here

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