ST. PAUL, Minn. – Fire deaths in Minnesota hit a 15-year-high in 2017.
The State Fire Marshal Division says 63 people perished from flames, up 47 percent from 2016 and the first time since 2002 that fires claimed more than 60 lives around the state. That tragic number was reached when four people, two cousins ages four and nine and their grandparents, died in a house fire in Hibbing on December 26.
“Fire is deadly, plain and simple,” says State Fire Marshal Bruce West said. “If people don’t take the dangers of fire seriously and work to prevent a fire in their home, they could find themselves or their loved ones victims of the next tragedy.”
The leading cause of fatal fires in 2017 was careless smoking, which officials say led to nine deaths.
So far in 2018, seven people have died in fires.
The fewest number of recorded fire deaths in Minnesota was 35 in 2009. The most was 134 in 1976.