Arson

Arson

Arson, the act of deliberately setting fire to a building, car or other property for fraudulent or malicious purposes, is a crime in all states.

Intentionally set fires caused nearly $689 million in property damage in 2011, including $88 million caused by vehicle fires and $601 million caused by fires in structures, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

Church arsons, a major problem in the 1990s, have dropped significantly. Intentional fires in religious and funeral properties fell 82 percent from 1,320 in 1980 to 240 in 2002, the last time such figures were tracked. Structural fires in houses of worship caused $102 million in property damage from 2004-2008, according to the NFPA.

INTENTIONALLY SET FIRES, 2004-2013

  Structures Vehicles (2)
Year Number of fires Property loss
($ millions) (1)
Number of fires Property loss
($ millions)
2004 36,500 $714 36,000 $165
2005 31,500 664 21,000 113
2006 31,100 755 20,500 134
2007 32,500 733 20,500 145
2008 30,500 866 17,500 139
2009 26,500 684 15,000 108
2010 27,500 585 14,000 89
2011 26,500 601 14,000 88
2012 26,000 581 12,500 480 (3)
2013 22,500 577 10,500 86

(1) Includes overall direct property loss to contents, structures, vehicles, machinery, vegetation or any other property involved in a fire. Excludes indirect losses, such as business interruption or temporary shelter costs.
(2) Includes highway vehicles, trains, boats, ships, aircraft and farm and construction vehicles.
(3) Includes $400 million in property loss from an intentionally set fire aboard the submarine USS Miami.

Source: 2012-2013 data reproduced with permission from Fire Loss in the United States During 2013 by Michael J. Karter, Jr., ©National Fire Protection Association; earlier data from prior reports. www.nfpa.org/research/reports-and-statistics.

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  • In 2013 property loss from intentionally set structure fires fell 0.7 percent from 2012, according to the National Fire Protection Association, as the number of fires fell 13.5 percent.
  • Intentionally set fires in vehicles fell 12.5 percent in 2013. The property loss from those fires fell 82.1 percent to $86 billion from $480 million in 2012. The 2012 figure included $400 million in losses from an intentionally set fire aboard a U.S. submarine.