USFA releases report on attic fires

January 19, 2011

Emmitsburg, MD – Each year, an estimated 10,000 fires occur in attics of residential buildings, causing approximately 30 deaths, 125 injuries and $477 million in property damage, according to a report (.pdf file) issued Jan. 13 by the U.S. Fire Administration. Overall, attic fires account for 2 percent of all residential building fires.

Electrical malfunction was responsible for 43 percent of attic fires, with electrical arcing being the heat source in 37 percent of the cases. Approximately 90 percent of attic fires occur in one- and two-story buildings, and almost all are nonconfined – meaning the fire is not limited to certain objects or equipment.

One-third of attic fires spread to involve the entire building. Fires tend to spread among the wood of attics easily, and can be concealed under insulation.

Attic fires occur most often in December and January, peaking between 4 and 8 p.m.