Cooking is top cause of home fires: USFA report

Emmitsburg, MD – Cooking continues to be the leading cause of home fires, accounting for nearly half of all residential building fires between 2010 and 2012, according to a new report released Dec. 15 by the U.S. Fire Administration.

Approximately 366,900 residential building fires are reported each year to fire departments, killing an estimated 2,465 people and injuring more than 13,000, the report states.

About 47 percent of home fires are attributed to cooking. USFA notes that home fires occur most frequently in the early evening and peak between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m., when cooking is most likely to be occurring. Although the vast majority of cooking fires (92 percent) were small and confined, non-confined fires (fires that spread) ost often started in kitchens or cooking areas.

The leading factor contributing to non-confined fires was misuse of material or products (38 percent), followed by electrical failure or malfunction (22 percent) and operational deficiency (16 percent).

Nearly one-quarter of residential buildings that had large, non-confined fires did not have smoke alarms. This figure is likely higher in reality, given that investigators were unable to determine whether or not smoke alarms existed in about 30 percent of all non-confined fires.