One person died this morning in an apartment fire in Mound, the first fire fatality of 2017 in Minnesota. The death comes on the heels of a near record-setting year for fire deaths in the state.
According to the Department of Public Safety State Fire Marshal Division, there were 36 people who died in fires last year. In 2015, there were 57 deaths. That's a 37% drop. The lowest number of deaths was in 2009, where 35 people died. The highest was 134 in 1976. DPS-SFMD began compiling statistics in 1970.
DPS-SFMD says the leading cause of fatal fires last year was careless smoking, tallying seven deaths, followed by combustibles too close (four deaths), suicide and arson (four deaths). There were 13 cases in which the fire's cause was undetermined.
The numbers are preliminary, but will become final once Minnesota hospital officials report their information this spring.
“Nobody should ever have to suffer the pain of losing someone in a fire,” State Fire Marshal Bruce West said. “Everyone must take fire prevention seriously so the number of deaths keeps falling.”
West said it is difficult to pinpoint a reason for the drop in fire deaths. He is hopeful Minnesotans are realizing the danger and power of fire and taking fire prevention in their homes more seriously.
Fire deaths the past decade
· 2016: 36 (preliminary)
· 2015: 57
· 2014: 44
· 2013: 44
· 2012: 50
· 2011: 56
· 2010: 39
· 2009: 35
· 2008: 52
· 2007: 40