Way fewer fire deaths last year – but careless smoking is still a problem

The fewest fire deaths ever recorded in a year? 35. The highest? 134.

Hey Minnesota – we did a pretty good job avoiding fire deaths last year.

New figures show 36 people died in fires in the state through all of 2016, the Department of Public Safety said. That's the second-lowest figure since they began tracking fire deaths in 1970. The only year it was lower came back in 2009, when there were 35.

The highest ever came in 1976 – 134 people died in fires in Minnesota that year.

The state saw its first fire death of 2017 Thursday morning, when one person died in an apartment fire in Mound, the department said.

But once again, smoking is a problem

However: Careless smoking is still a big issue. It was once again the leading cause of fire deaths.

Seven of the 36 deaths were attributed to fires from smoking.

So what can you do to avoid careless smoking? The U.S. Fire Administration says you should:

  • Smoke outside so nothing in your home catches fire;
  • Always put cigarettes completely out, every time;
  • Don't smoke while you're tired, or after taking medicine that makes you sleepy;
  • Do not smoke while in bed;
  • And put your cigarette out in an ashtray or bucket filled with sand.

Four of the 2016 Minnesota fire deaths were due to combustibles being to close to heat, and another four were determined to be arson or suicide.

With 13 fire deaths, the cause of the blaze couldn't be determined.

The state's Fire Marshal has more suggestions to avoid fires here.

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