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Cooking the leading cause of residential fires: USFA

February 14, 2019

Emmitsburg, MD — Cooking was the No. 1 cause of residential fires in the United States from 2014 to 2016, with peak hours around dinnertime, according to data published in the December edition of the “Topical Fire Report Series” from the U.S. Fire Administration.

Over the three-year period, fire departments responded to an estimated 188,800 residential cooking fires each year, resulting in annual averages of 195 deaths, 3,800 injuries and $463 million in property damage.

Forty percent of the fires occurred between 4 and 9 p.m., peaking in the 6 o’clock hour (9.3 percent). The primary contributing factor was people leaving their stoves, ovens and other equipment unattended (40 percent). Oil, fat and grease were the materials most often ignited (47 percent), followed by plastics (12 percent).

Fires most often occurred in November (9.4 percent) and December (8.9 percent). “On average, the greatest number of residential cooking fires occurred on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and Christmas Eve, respectively,” the report notes. July and August had the lowest percentage of residential cooking fires, at 7.6 percent each.