Fire deaths down in Minnesota for 2016

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ROCHESTER, Minn. – The Minnesota State Fire Marshal is reporting fire deaths are down significantly in 2016. So far, fire has claimed the lives of 36 people in the state, and at this time last year there were 57 deaths.

Unfortunately, Rochester is an area that is not seeing that same trend, in fact there has been an increase in fire deaths. According to the Rochester Fire Department Deputy Chief Vance Swisher, the city usually averages four fire deaths every 4-5 years, however so far in 2016 four people have died in house/apartment fires.

The first was in March, where a mother and her 2-year old child were killed. The second house fire to claim lives was in July where a mother and her adult son died. The cause of both deadly fires were determined to be accidental.

Swisher doesn’t see this trend continuing for Rochester, saying the circumstances of the two deadly fires were unique.

“The occurrences of fire deaths this year were very specific in nature and areas that were very difficult for us to have prevention methods that would reduce any type of hazard related to that,” he explains.

We also asked him about some of the main contributing factors that caused fires in 2016.

“We do still see a significant number of fires around cooking materials, people who are cooking become distracted and lose time or attention to what they’re cooking and they start a fire on their stove,” he explains. “Alcohol continues to be a contributing factor with fire deaths, and then also smoking materials.”

Fire Marshal Bruce West is asking Minnesotans to ring in the new year safely so we can end 2016 with no more fire deaths.

  • Don’t cook while under the influence of alcohol.
  • Stay in the kitchen and pay attention while cooking.
  • Using candles to add a festive atmosphere to your New Year’s Eve party? Never leave them unattended or use flameless candles.
  • Keep decorations and anything flammable three feet from space heaters. Unplug space heaters before you go to bed.

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