MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Department of Public Safety’s State Fire Marshal division reports that 42 people died in fires in Minnesota last year. That marks a 14% increase from the previous year.

Fire deaths (all causes) since 2009
2019: 42 (preliminary)
2018: 36
2017: 68
2016: 43
2015: 57
2014: 44
2013: 44
2012: 50
2011: 56
2010: 39
2009: 35

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The leading cause of fire deaths in each of these years was careless smoking.

About 67% of the people killed in 2019 were over the age of 50, and there weren’t any working smoke alarms in 12% of the homes where people were killed.

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The numbers will be confirmed later in 2020, after hospitals in the state report the last of their data to the Minnesota Department of Health.

Authorities are reminding Minnesotans to not leave their space heaters, candles, or food cooking on the stovetop unattended.

“There are many little things we can do to prevent a devastating fire from happening in our homes,” State Fire Marshal Jim Smith told the media. “It is important to practice fire prevention and safety every day.”

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Officials recommend that homeowners test their smoke and carbon monoxide alarms monthly, and also create a family escape plan in the event of an emergency.