MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The State Fire Marshal says four of eight fire deaths in Minnesota this year were likely caused by smoking.

According to the State Fire Marshal, eight people died in fires between Jan. 9 and Jan. 23. There were three fire deaths at this time last year.

This year’s fire death victims connected to smoking:

– 80-year-old Maple Grove woman, Jan. 9
– 83-year-old Montevideo woman, Jan. 14
– 77-year-old Eveleth woman, Jan. 14
– 29-year-old St. Paul man, Jan. 18

“I was a smoker for 30 years. I know how hard it is to quit,” State Fire Marshal Jim Smith said. “But it’s not hard to smoke outside and properly extinguish your cigarettes in a sturdy container filled with sand or water. It’s not hard to talk to your loved ones who smoke and ask them to do these things.”

Smith reminds those who smoke to follow these guidelines:

– Smoke outside and extinguish cigarettes in a sturdy ashtray filled with sand or water
– Do not discard cigarettes in potted plants, leaves, mulch or other vegetation
– Do not smoke while on oxygen or under the influence of drugs/alcohol

Smoking is typically the leading cause of fatal fires each year in Minnesota.