- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 6, 2014

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A spike in the number of deaths and injuries blamed on brush fires has prompted officials to warn Iowans about the potential danger of such fires and the need to take precautions.

In a statement released Tuesday, the State Fire Marshal Division and University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics noted the hospital’s burn treatment center treated six people injured by brush fires between February and April. Three of those people died.

During those same months last year, one person died and one was injured due to brush fires burns.

Ron Humphrey, a State Fire Marshal Division official, said it’s difficult to attribute the increase to any one cause, as weather conditions and other factors vary from year to year.

“In our line of work, every year is a little bit different,” he said. “Sometimes there’s no rhyme or reason for it.”

All four of those people who died since last year were 75 or older. Humphrey said two of the four victims were from Iowa.

Officials say there’s a greater risk of injury for older people as their vision, hearing and mobility capabilities decrease.

To prevent the spread of brush fires and any threat to people and property, officials recommend staying up-to-date on county burn bans as well as city restrictions. They also urge against burning on dry, windy days, leaving a fire unattended or conducting a controlled burn alone.

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