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In the United States last year, the total number of reported vehicle fires fell 5 percent from the 312,000 reported in 2003 to 297,000, according to a recent report from the National Fire Protection Association. This was the smallest vehicle fire incidence since NFPA began tracking vehicle fires and losses with its current methods.

The largest proportion of those fires, 266,500, occurred in cars, trucks, and other highway vehicles, as opposed to boats, aircraft, mass-transit vehicles, and agricultural and construction vehicles. Not surprisingly, most of the fatalities associated with vehicle fires also occurred among the drivers of highway vehicles. In 2004, 520 civilian deaths resulted from vehicle fires, along with 1,300 civilian injuries and $1.3 billion in direct property damage. Vehicle fires accounted for 19 percent of the fires reported to fire departments that year. Vehicle fires also caused 14 percent of all civilian fire deaths, 8 percent of all civilian fire injuries, and 13 percent of the nation’s property loss to fire in 2004.

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