Fire deaths in MN last year highest since 2002

Fire deaths in MN last year highest since 2002 Click to Enlarge

ST. PAUL, MN--More people died in fires last year in Minnesota than in any year since 2002, according to preliminary numbers released today by the Department of Public Safety. 63 people died in fires in 2017--a 47-percent increase over the 43 fatalities in 2016. The leading cause of fatal fires last year in Minnesota was careless smoking (nine deaths), followed by combustibles too close a heat source (four). Fire death numbers become final once Minnesota hospital officials report their information to the Minnesota Department of Public Health in the spring. Seven people have died in fires so far in 2018.

Fire prevention tips Minnesotans can keep themselves and their families safe by following these fire prevention and safety tips.


  • If you smoke, smoke outside and extinguish cigarettes in a sturdy ashtray filled with sand or water.
  • Do not discard cigarettes in potted plants, leaves, mulch or other vegetation.
  • Do not smoke while on oxygen.


  • Never leave food cooking on the stovetop unattended; stay and look while you cook.
  • Keep items like oven mitts, aprons and paper towels 3 feet from heat sources in the kitchen.


  • Keep space heaters three feet from anything combustible.
  • Do not leave space heaters unattended. Turn them off while you’re sleeping.
  • Plug space heaters directly into the wall, not an extension cord or power strip.
  • Have your furnace and chimney inspected annually. Open flames  Keep candles at least three feet from anything that can burn and never leave a candle unattended.
  • Use flameless candles instead of real candles.

Smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms

  • Test your smoke and CO alarms monthly; change the batteries at least once a year.
  • Fire doubles in size every 60 seconds; a smoke alarm can give you the time you need to escape.
  • Install smoke alarms in bedrooms, outside sleeping areas and on every level of the home.
  • CO alarms should be installed within 10 feet of each sleeping room or inside each sleeping room.

Family escape planning Create a family escape plan and practice it twice a year with everyone in your home.

  • Start by drawing a map of your home that shows two ways out of every room. Make sure those ways out are easy to open (make sure windows aren’t painted shut, for example), and practice using different ones. If you have a multi-level home, consider putting an escape ladder near each window so you can get to the ground safely in an emergency.
  • Designate a meeting place outside, such as a tree or utility pole.

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