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Report: Minnesota records more structure fires, but fatalities drop

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The number of fires in Minnesota increased last year by 12 percent (16,581 blazes), but fire fatalities dipped from 56 to 50, according to a new state analysis, MPR News reports.

That mirrors a broader trend. Fire deaths have dropped over the past 40 years as the state’s population grew, and more fires have been recorded every year since 2010, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.

Increased use of smoke alarms and sprinkler systems have been a big factor in reducing fire deaths in the state by more than half since the 1970s, state Fire Marshal Jerry Rosendahl said. “The fight against fire is everyone’s fight — and it needs to continue," he said.

Cooking remains the No. 1 cause of structure fires in Minnesota, according to the report. Careless behaviors lead to more than half of building fires.

Other fast facts from the "Fire in Minnesota 2012" report:

– Minnesota had the 10th-lowest rate of fire deaths per capita in the nation, .93 deaths per 100,000 people.

– Fires caused $292.2 million in damage in 2012 in the state, a 92 percent increase. That spike was largely due to the Verso Paper Mill fire in Sartell, Minn. on Memorial Day 2012. The blaze caused an estimated $60 million in structural damage and $18 million in lost equipment.

– One fire was reported every 32 minutes statewide in 2012.

– There were zero line-of-duty firefighter deaths in 2012.

– The number of incendiary fires (intentionally-set fires, including arson and out-of-control recreational fires), increased 18 percent in 2012.

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