• Safety

Summary: Thanksgiving Day Fires in the United States



In the years 2006 to 2008, an estimated 4,300 Thanksgiving Day fires occurred annually in the , causing 10 deaths, 50 injuries, and $30 million in property loss. Of these Thanksgiving Day fires, an estimated 2,000 fires occurred in resulting in an estimated average of 5 deaths, 25 injuries, and $21 million in property loss each year.

On Thanksgiving Day, many families customarily spend the holiday inside their home or the home of a friend or family member with the family dinner being the highlight of the day. Because of this holiday custom, from 2006 to 2008, the average number of reported residential on Thanksgiving Day almost doubled (49 percent) from the average number of fires in residential buildings on all days other than Thanksgiving (26%). As a result, it is particularly important to look at the characteristics of residential on Thanksgiving.

This series looks at the characteristics of Thanksgiving Day fires in residential buildings reported to the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) between 2006 and 2008, the most recent data available at the time of analysis.

Key Information

  • An estimated 2,000 Thanksgiving Day fires in residential buildings are reported to U.S. fire departments each year and cause an estimated average of 5 deaths, 25 injuries, and $21 million in property loss.
  • Smaller, confined fires account for 71 percent of Thanksgiving Day fires in residential buildings.
  • Thanksgiving Day fires in residential buildings occur most frequently in the afternoon hours from 12 to 4 p.m., peaking from noon to 1 p.m.
  • Cooking is the leading cause of all Thanksgiving Day fires in residential buildings at 69 percent. Nearly all of these cooking fires (97 percent) are small, confined fires with limited damage.
  • Electrical malfunctions (14 percent), carelessness or other unintentional actions (14 percent), and open flames (13 percent) are the leading of the larger, nonconfined Thanksgiving Day fires in residential buildings.
  • Nonconfined Thanksgiving Day fires in residential buildings most often start in cooking areas and kitchens (22 percent).
  • The leading category of factors contributing to ignition of nonconfined Thanksgiving Day fires in residential buildings is the “misuse of material or product” (35 percent). Within this category, source too close to combustible materials and abandoned or discarded materials account for 14 percent and 9 percent of all nonconfined Thanksgiving Day fires in residential buildings, respectively.
  • No smoke alarms were present in 20 percent of nonconfined Thanksgiving Day fires in occupied residential buildings.