Fire deaths highest in MN since 2011
FARGO -- Four deaths in Minnesota this month have pushed the number of fire fatalities this year to the state's highest level since 2011.The numbers are not as grim in North Dakota, where fire deaths are headed for a three-year low.Hoping to prev...
FARGO - Four deaths in Minnesota this month have pushed the number of fire fatalities this year to the state's highest level since 2011.
The numbers are not as grim in North Dakota, where fire deaths are headed for a three-year low.
Hoping to prevent deadly blazes as the year winds down, fire marshals in both states are reminding residents to be careful in the kitchen.
"Cooking has been and continues to be one of our No. 1 causes of fires," North Dakota Fire Marshal Ray Lambert said.
In Minnesota, 52 people have died in fires so far this year, an 18 percent increase over last year's total of 44.
This month, there were three fire deaths in three days: a 24-year-old man in Alexandria on Dec. 11, a 25-year-old woman in Mountain Iron on Dec. 12 and a 5-year-old Ham Lake girl on Dec. 13. A fourth fatal fire and the most recent of the year killed a Minneapolis man on Dec. 17.
The top three causes of residential fires in Minnesota are what the state fire marshal's office calls holiday staples: cooking, heating and open flame.
Minnesota Fire Marshal Bruce West urges residents to stay in the kitchen while cooking, to not leave candles and space heaters unattended, to keep matches and lighters away from children and to test smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.
For many of the fatal fires this year in Minnesota, what sparked the flames was undetermined. But for fires with a pinpointed source, the most common cause was careless smoking, according to records kept by the state fire marshal's office.
It was a cigarette that ignited the Fargo-Moorhead area's last fatal fire. The 2013 blaze, which struck a south Fargo apartment building, killed Jesse Madson, 30, and his girlfriend, Angela Wentz, 42.
While the Fargo metro area hasn’t experienced any fire deaths this year, there have been serious injuries. Most recently, a woman burned her hands and face during a Monday house fire in north Fargo, and she was flown to a Minneapolis hospital for treatment. The cause of that fire remains under investigation, Fargo Fire Chief Steve Dirksen said.
The chief said that this time of year, his department usually sees an uptick in fires related to heating. He advises residents to keep combustible material away from heat sources.
Dirksen says most fires, fatal or otherwise, are avoidable. “A majority of the fires are things that could be prevented if people just followed some simple precautions,” he said.