Find out what types of buildings sustained the highest losses from property fires in 2016

by Brianna Crandall — January 10, 2018 — The global nonprofit National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recently released the latest edition of its Large-loss Fires in the United States report with data on large-loss fires and explosions that occurred in the United States the year before. As reported in the current issue of NFPA Journal, those fires are defined as events that result in property damage of at least $10 million.

According to the report, there were 25 large-loss fires in 2016, resulting in a total of over $1.4 billion in direct property losses. The 25 large-loss fires include six fires — four fewer than the previous year — that resulted in more than $20 million each in direct property damage. These six fires resulted in a combined property loss of $1.2 billion, or 83.2% of the total large-loss tally. The loss associated with these six fires represents 11.4% of the annual fire loss in the US for 2016.

The major property types that had incidents were:

  • Storage/warehouses (24%)
  • Special properties (24%)
  • Manufacturing (16%)
  • Stores and offices (12%)

The “special properties” included three apartment buildings and a hotel under construction, and an apartment building and a mixed-use property under renovation.

Although the 25 large-loss fires accounted for only 0.002% of the estimated 1,342,000 structure and non-structure fires reported in 2016, they accounted for 13.2% of the total estimated annual dollar loss.

The largest fire in terms of direct property loss was the Chimney Tops 2 Fire, in Tennessee, with a loss of $911 million.  The second largest was the Clayton Fire, a California wildfire that resulted in $175 million in damage, according to the report.

The 25 large-loss fires accounted for 14 civilian deaths, with another 183 civilians and eight firefighters injured.

This report includes only fire incidents for which NFPA has official dollar-loss estimates. There are other fires that may have large losses, but no official information has been reported to NFPA.

The Large-loss Fires in the United States report is available to download at no cost from the NFPA Web site, and a summary is available in the NFPA Journal.