Wildfires pose a rising threat to public safety in the United States. Data from the Environmental Protection Agency show that they have grown larger, more common, and more intense in recent decades. As wildfires are becoming more destructive, fires of all types – wild or otherwise – are getting deadlier. (Here is a look at the 30 most destructive wildfires in the U.S. this century.)
According to the U.S. Fire Administration, the trend in fire death rates has risen steadily in the last decade, from 10.7 deaths per million people in 2010 to 11.1 per million in 2019, the most recent year of available data. A total of 3,515 people were killed by fires that year, making it the third deadliest year for fires in the United States since 2010.
The risk of dying in a fire varies considerably by geography, however, and in some parts of the country, Americans are more than twice as likely to be killed by a fire than average.
Using data from the U.S. Fire Administration, 24/7 Wall St. identified the states where the most people are killed by fire. Fire deaths include all those in which exposure to a fire or explosion resulted in a fatality. States are ranked by the number of fire deaths per million people in 2019.
Regionally, Americans living in the Midwest and the South are at the highest relative risk of dying in a fire. From a demographic standpoint, men are at higher risk than women, and older Americans – particularly those age 85 and up – are at increased risk.
States most susceptible to wildfire damage are not necessarily those with the highest fire fatality rates. Each year, accidental fires in homes and urban areas, as well as cases of arson, in which private homes, vehicles, or other structures are set on fire deliberately, also contribute to fire deaths. (Here is a look at the states with the most arson.)