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After an especially bad year for fire deaths, a deadly start to 2018

2 people died in a mobile home fire in Alexandria.

The Essentials

1. Two people were killed in a fire at a mobile home park in Alexandria, Minnesota, just before 5 a.m. Friday.

2. Rose Marie Couillard, 59, and James Willis Chandler, Jr., 49, were found by firefighters in the back bedroom of the unit, and later pronounced dead despite life-saving efforts.

3. It's the first fatal fire in Minnesota in 2018. The cause has not yet been established, Alexandria police department said.

What Else You Should Know

The first fire deaths of 2018 in Minnesota come after a 2017 that saw fire-related fatalities reach their highest level in 15 years.

Official figures are yet to be confirmed for last year, but there were at least 60 fire deaths in the state – the highest it's been since 64 died in 2002.

This includes the tragic blaze a few days before the end of the year, when two grandparents and their two grandsons died in a house fire in Hibbing.

Although an official cause of the Alexandria fire has not been announced yet, mobile homes can be at particular risk of fire during the winter months because of the equipment used to keep them warm.

AARP insurance says mechanical failures in furnaces, flues, fireplaces, space heaters, stoves and water heaters are the number one cause of mobile home fires.

Anyone who lives in a mobile home should have their heating equipment checked out regularly, and have a working smoke detector in place.

As the fire developed, the Star Tribune reports neighbor Judith Young went door-to-door in the mobile home park making sure every resident had working smoke detectors, handing one out if they didn't.

"We all have space heaters going because we don’t have an option," she told the newspaper. "It could easily cause another fire. Smoke detectors make a huge difference."

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