MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – An early-morning fire left one person dead on Sunday. The Minneapolis Fire Department says the fire happened in the 2900 block of 40th Ave. S.

The first fire fatality of 2016 for Minneapolis came as the department begins a new effort to spread prevention and education across the city. Family members of the person who lived in the burned south Minneapolis home walked around the yard Sunday afternoon.

They described the homeowner as their 65-year-old brother, but did not want to share the man’s name until the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office could positively identify the victim.

Minneapolis firefighters fought the flames earlier in the morning and then came across the victim on the second floor. The victim was burned beyond recognition.

Assistant Chief of Administration Bryan Tyner described the difficulty many firefighters experience after discovering deceased victims of fires.

“We try to keep an eye on each other and support each other but we also have professionals to talk to,” Tyner said.

Tyner described the last couple of years as particularly difficult winters for the department.

The last two years included some of the deadliest fires in recent Minneapolis history, many happening during winter nights in homes using dangerous methods to heat.

“This winter has been better in terms of heating but even though it’s been warmer, it’s still been cold enough where you need to heat your home,” Tyner said.

Tyner said that is one of the reasons the department is working to put an even greater emphasis on fire education and prevention.

“We can probably save a lot more lives by educating people in safe fire prevention practices than we ever could actually saving people from fires,” Tyner said.

This year, the department is using more donated money to put smoke and carbon monoxide detectors into Minneapolis homes.

The goal is to eventually give working smoke detectors to every city resident who needs them.

“We will probably target high-risk communities but make it open to everyone,” Tyner said.

Tyner said the department expects people should be able to apply for free smoke detectors within the next couple of months.

It is still unclear how much money will be donated by partners in the community and how many smoke detectors the department will be able to give away.

The smoke detectors will cost about $50 as Tyner expects they will also be carbon monoxide detectors. Firefighters recommend people have at least one working smoke detectors on each floor of a home and one in every room used for sleeping.

The cause of the Sunday morning fire is under investigation.

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