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Bruce Gordon, Director of Communications
Jen Longaecker  651-201-7570
June 18, 2014
Kitchen Fire Fatalities Spike in 2013
State Fire Marshal Reminds People to Stay in the Kitchen While Cooking
ST. PAUL, Minn. — Kitchen fires killed more people in 2013 than the previous seven years combined, according to numbers from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety State Fire Marshal Division’s (SFMD) preliminary Fire in Minnesota report.

Six people died last year in fires caused by someone leaving food cooking unattended. Unattended cooking — which caused an average of less than one death each year since 2006 —  joined careless smoking as the top cause of fire fatalities last year in Minnesota.

“Leaving the kitchen, even for just a moment, can be deadly,” State Fire Marshal Bruce West said. “Following a few simple rules can keep us all safe and put an end to these preventable fire deaths.”
2013 fire deaths by cause
  • Careless smoking — 6
  • Unattended cooking — 6
  • Suicide — 4
  • Arson — 3
  • Car crash/malfunction — 3
  • Combustibles too close — 2
  • Other — 2
  • Undetermined — 18
Unattended cooking fire deaths
  • 2013 — 6
  • 2012 — 1
  • 2011 — 0
  • 2010 — 1
  • 2009 — 2
  • 2008 — 0
  • 2007 — 0
  • 2006 — 1

There were 6,330 structure fires last year in Minnesota and 44 fire deaths. The top three causes of structure fires were cooking (49 percent), heating (9 percent) and electrical disturbances (6 percent), according to the preliminary Fire in Minnesota report. The final draft of the report will be released later this year.

Fire safety and prevention tips

  • Never leave food cooking on the stove unattended.
  • Keep a lid next to each pot or pan so you can smother a fire if one starts.
  • Keep rags, pot holders, paper towels and curtains away from the stove.
  • Roll up your sleeves and keep your apron snug.
  • Clean cooking surfaces and your oven often; grease and heat are a deadly combination.
  • Keep children out of the kitchen and away from the stove.
  • Make sure your smoke alarms are working.
  • Have a safe-escape plan for every building you visit, even your own home.
  • Consider protecting your home or business with fire sprinklers. 

About the Minnesota Department Public Safety
The Department of Public Safety comprises 11 divisions where 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 is anchored by three core principles: education, enforcement and prevention.

About the State Fire Marshal Division
The mission of the 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.

State Fire Marshal Division statistics

  • SFMD investigators worked on 395 investigations last year.
  • One structure fire was reported in Minnesota every 1.4 hours in 2013.
  • Last year, careless smoking and cooking were the most common causes of fatal fires.
  • There were 44 fire deaths in 2013, a 12 percent decrease from 50 deaths in 2012.
  • This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Fire in Minnesota report. Fifteen years of fire data is online. 


445 Minnesota Street, Suite 100 | Saint Paul, Minnesota 55101-5155 | dps.mn.gov