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Residential Arson Facts (from

National Fire Incident Reporting System

The U.S. Fire Administration’s National Fire Incident Reporting System reports an estimated 16,800 intentionally set fires in residential buildings occur annually in the United States. These fires result in an estimated 280 deaths, 775 injuries and $593 million in property loss each year.

  • Five percent of all residential building fires were intentionally set.
  • Lighters (22 percent), heat from other open flame or smoking materials (19 percent), and matches (15 percent) were the leading heat sources of intentionally set fires in residential buildings.
  • The majority (76 percent) of intentionally set fires in residential buildings occurred in one- or two-family dwellings. An additional 19 percent of fires occurred in multifamily dwellings.
  • Forty-one percent of the intentionally set residential fires occurred in vacant buildings.
  • Rubbish, trash and waste (8 percent); magazines, newspapers and writing paper (7 percent); and uncontained flammable liquids or gas (6 percent) were the items most often first ignited in intentionally set fires in residential buildings.

National Fire Protection Association

  • In 2010, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 27,100 home structure fires that were intentionally set.
  • These fires caused 310 deaths, 860 injuries and $551 million in direct property damage.
  • Home structure fires account for 60 percent of all intentional structure fires and 95 percent of associated civilian deaths.
  • Intentionally set home structure fires are more likely to be set between 3 p.m. and midnight.
  • The bedroom is the most common area of origin for intentional home structure fires, and rubbish, trash or waste was the leading item first ignited.

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (2008-2010)

  • There were 11,436 fire incidents involving residential properties reported in the Bomb Arson Tracking System.
  • These incidents resulted with an estimated aggregate monetary loss in excess of $197 million, with 385 persons injured and 157 killed.
  • The vast majority of residential arson occurs in one- and two-family dwellings, representing a little over 71 percent.
  • Over 26 percent of all the identified residential arsons were occupied and operating at the time of the event, while almost 14 percent were vacant (both secured and unsecured).

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program

  • Statistics showed that 14,717 law enforcement agencies reported 43,412 arsons.
  • Arsons involving single occupancy and other residential structures accounted for 29.3 percent (12,720) of the total number of arson offenses.
  • Preliminary FBI UCR data from the first six months of 2012 shows an increase in arson offenses for the first time in six years.

For more information, please refer to the following resources:

  • Reduce the Risk of Arson in Your Neighborhood (color flyer) (pdf)

Topical Fire Reports:

For more information, please contact the Community Risk Reduction Section at (803) 896-1250 or

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Jonathan Jones,   State Fire Marshal

141 Monticello Trail, Columbia, SC 29203

(803) 896-9800 | Office Hours: 8:30 a.m.- 5:00 p.m. | Monday - Friday except   State Holidays

Changes Due to Hazardous Weather or Emergencies can be found listed at   Status of State Government Offices.