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Minnesota sees increase in smoking fire related deaths

Devin Martin
Updated: August 02, 2020 06:18 PM
Created: August 02, 2020 04:50 PM

(ABC 6 News) -- It’s something that’s increasing in Minnesota, deaths from fires because of smoking.

The number of deaths are up 35-percent compared to last year but the Rochester Fire Department has tips to keep you safe, "Fires happen when you least expect them and we just want you to be vigilant and really think about where you're disregarding your cigarettes,” KC Clark, motor operator for the Rochester Fire Department said.

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So far this year, smoking killed 11 people but officials say this can be prevented.

"Simple steps are having ashtrays, smoking outside, using ashtrays with sand or water at the bottom of them and keeping that ashtray away from the house,” Clark said.

Clark says no one in Rochester has died from fires so far this year and hopes with awareness, it stays that way.

"We encourage people to smoke outside. Never smoke inside a structure that has running oxygen. Another thing to think about is potting and plants,” Clark said. “People think that they can put their cigarette out in a pot or a plant because of its dirt. Potting soil actually has nutrients and peat moss and fertilizers that can actually accelerate a fire much quicker."

Right now, the average age of smoking-related fire deaths is 59. Clark hopes not one more life gets lost to a fire.

“The state of Minnesota, the Minnesota State Fire Marshal’s Office, and the Rochester Fire Department all are working together to try and reduce the amount of fire deaths in Minnesota and nationwide as best as we can,” Clark said. “It's disappointing and discouraging sometimes when we see a little uptick, by utilizing the safety measures we're talking about, we're hoping we achieve our goal."

Firefighters also recommend you keep a smoke detector and a carbon monoxide alarm on every level of your home and that you should also check the batteries monthly.


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