Updated: 06/19/2014 6:29 PM
Created: 06/19/2014 5:14 PM WDIO.com
By: Briggs LeSavage
Six people died in kitchen-related fires across the state in 2013, and now, Duluth firefighters are advising people to be safe while cooking.
Duluth Fire Marshal Marnie Grondahl said while it is unusual for people to die from unattended cooking accidents in Duluth, it is still one of the main causes of fires in the city.
"It's typically unattended cooking that’s probably the leading cause of [fires]," Grondahl said. "It's really one of the most preventable kinds of fires you can have."
The six deaths in 2013 were more than the state has seen in the last seven years combined. It brought unattended cooking to a tie with careless smoking as the leading causes of fire-related deaths in the state.
Grondahl said she's not sure what caused the spike but that one of the most dangerous situations the fire department sees is when people forget they are cooking and walk away from the oven or stove.
"Set a timer... something to remind yourself that you have something cooking," Grondahl said. "Take a hotpad with you into the other room … but it's better if you're cooking anything on the stove top to actually stay in the kitchen, and if it's in the oven, then the timer or oven mit works really well."
If a fire does break out in the kitchen, Grondahl said one of the most important things to do is eliminate the fire's oxygen intake to avoid it spreading.
"If you do have a fire on your stove top and it's a grease fire, you never ever want to throw water on a grease fire," she said. "The best thing to do for a fire that's on the stove top is to slide a lid over the top, and turn the burner off and just let it cool down.
It's a similar story for microwaves and stoves, she said.
"The easiest way to put out a microwave fire if you see something burning in there is to shut it off and it will die down-- same with the oven," Grondahl said.
In an effort to help Northlanders avoid kitchen fires, Grondahl said the Duluth Fire Department plans to use its kitchen fire demonstration trailer to show just how easily fires can break out during multiple events this summer.
There were 6,330 structure fires last year in Minnesota and 44 fire deaths. The top three causes of structure fires were cooking (49 percent), heating (9 percent) and electrical disturbances (6 percent), according to the preliminary Fire in Minnesota report. The final draft of the report will be released later this year.
Endangered Piping Plover Prompts Park Point Beach Warning
The St. Louis River Alliance is encouraging Park Point visitors to stay away from some areas of the beach in order to help protect a critically endangered bird.
Flags and Crosses for Veterans at Sunrise Memorial Park
The Boy Scouts putting out flags on veterans graves on Friday had a new holder to put at each spot. Garett Paulus built 400 wooden crosses, which have a place to hold the flag.
For Senate Leader Bakk, Session's End Exposes Divisions
All eyes heading into this year's legislative session were on new House Speaker Kurt Daudt and his ability to keep 72 Republicans together. But several Democratic senators say dissenting votes show a simmering discontent with Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk.
Dayton Signs 4 Budget Bills, Still Weighing Other Vetoes
The Democratic governor has already vetoed a public school funding bill he deems insufficient. But Dayton approved spending levels for health care programs, higher education and transportation on Friday.
Garage Sale Season in Full Swing
Front lawn shoppers picked over unique items Friday as a sunny lead in to Memorial Day weekend marked the beginning of garage sale season.