- Associated Press - Saturday, October 29, 2016

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Fire deaths in Minnesota have decreased this year, down dramatically from 2015.

State Fire Marshal Bruce West told Minnesota Public Radio News (https://bit.ly/2dRSbdW) that there have been 24 deaths from fires so far this year, compared with 49 at this time last year.

“We are on record pace for having the lowest number of fire deaths ever in Minnesota, and we surely hope that pace continues,” said West.

According to West one factor in the low numbers this year might be vaping, as people light up fewer traditional cigarettes.

“The number one cause of fire related deaths continues to be careless smoking. The number one identified cause. So people either quitting smoking or moving to vaping, that could be one of the underlying reductions in this,” West said.

By the end of 2015, 57 people died from fires, a spike from 44 deaths in each of the prior two years. West attributes the increase to a slew of deadly space heater fires as the weather turned colder.

West said fire departments have been emphasizing fire prevention and repeating warnings about the dangers of heat appliances.

“When you leave the house, leave the room, shut those heaters off,” West said. “And we don’t want people to use an oven to heat their home. That’s not what an oven was designed to do.”

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Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News, https://www.mprnews.org

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