Holiday season dangerous time for house fires

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Entering the holidays – a historically dangerous time of the year for home fires – Minnesota is on track to have fewer residential fire fatalities than last year.

There have been 30 fire-related deaths so far in 2013, well below 44 at this time last year, according to the state fire marshal's office.

Last year, there were 50 total fire fatalities by year's end in Minnesota. That was a dip from 56 in 2011.

The state’s all-time low fire-death figure was 35 in 2009 and the high was 134 in 1976, state officials report.

Last year, there were three fire fatalities and one injury Thursday through Sunday of Thanksgiving week. During Christmas week, there were three fire fatalities and four injuries Christmas Eve through Jan. 1.

The Minnesota State Fire Marshal notes that fires often break out where families feel the safest – at home. Among the most recent fatalities occurred in St. Paul over the weekend. Careless smoking in bed was blamed in that blaze.

If you are gearing up to prepare a Thanksgiving feast, take note: Unattended cooking continues to be the No. 1 cause of structure fires, Minnesota fire officials say. Many of those blazes are grease-fueled, and panicked homeowners often grab for water or a fire extinguisher that spreads the flames, state officials say.

“Holiday cooking can be time-consuming, complicated and messy,” Fire Marshal Jerry Rosendahl said in a news release. “But I assure you that following a half-dozen simple rules can keep us all safe and put an end to these preventable fire deaths.”

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