ST. PAUL, Minn. — Fifty-seven people died last year in fires in Minnesota — the highest number of fire fatalities since 2002 when 64 people were killed, according to final numbers released today by the Department of Public Safety State Fire Marshal Division.
Numbers become final once Minnesota hospital officials report their information to the Minnesota Department of Public Health.
The No. 1 cause of fatal fires last year in Minnesota was careless smoking (nine deaths) followed by unattended cooking (four), suicide (three) and arson (two). There were 24 fire deaths in which the fire’s cause was undetermined.
State Fire Marshal Bruce West is asking Minnesotans to help drive those numbers back down by following basic fire prevention tips in their homes.
“This increase is heartbreaking because most of these deaths were preventable,” West said. “We all need to be part of the solution. We all need to take fire prevention seriously. You may think a fire could never happen to you or your family, but it can — and it can be deadly.”
The 57 deaths in 2015 represent a nearly 30 percent increase over the 44 fatalities in both 2014 and 2013.
Fire deaths since 2000
A record high of 122 people were killed in fires in 1980. The fewest fire deaths (35) were recorded in 2009.
• 2014: 44
• 2013: 44
• 2012: 50
• 2011: 56
• 2010: 39
• 2009: 35
• 2008: 52
• 2007: 40
• 2006: 46
• 2005: 41
• 2004: 43
• 2002: 64
• 2001: 47
• 2000: 51
How can Minnesotans keep themselves and their families safe? Follow these prevention tips:
• Never leave a hot stovetop or oven unattended.
• If you smoke, smoke outside.
• Use a deep, sturdy ashtray. Place it away from anything that can burn.
• Do not discard cigarettes in potted plants, leaves, mulch or other vegetation.
• Make sure cigarette butts are completely extinguished. Use a metal container filled with water or sand.
• Keep space heaters three feet from anything combustible.
• Do not leave space heaters unattended, and turn them off while you’re sleeping.
• Leave three feet between a candle and anything that can burn; use flameless candles.
About the Minnesota Department of Public Safety
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) comprises 11 divisions where 2,100 employees operate programs in the areas of law enforcement, crime victim assistance, traffic safety, alcohol and gambling, emergency communications, fire safety, pipeline safety, driver licensing, vehicle registration and emergency management. DPS activity is anchored by three core principles: education, enforcement and prevention.
About the State Fire Marshal Division
The mission of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety State Fire Marshal Division is to protect lives and property by fostering a fire-safe environment through fire/arson investigation, code development and enforcement, regulation, data collection and public education. Data collected by the State Fire Marshal Division from fire departments statewide is analyzed and used to determine the best methods of public education and enforcement to improve fire safety in our state.
2015 State Fire Marshal Division highlights
• Staff answered 2,435 fire code questions via phone and email.
• Investigators assisted on 465 fire investigations and provided 76 consultations.
• The division marked its 110th anniversary.