Four Smoking Related Fire Deaths So Far in 2020

Updated: January 24, 2020 06:47 PM

Health leaders have long told us that smoking is a deadly habit. And now, public safety leaders are adding their input.


"We know smoking can kill you in more than one way," shared Jim Smith, the state fire marshal. "Cigarettes are a dangerous item."

According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, there have been eight fire deaths this year. And of those eight, four were likely related to smoking.

One was from January 14th in Eveleth. 77-year-old Bonnie Mae Phinney died when her home was enveloped in flames. The state said the preliminary cause of the fire was smoking. 

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

Also, it appears that seven of the eight fire victims who died are over the age of 50. And the average age of victims who died in smoking-related fires between 2009-2019 is 61.

Here are some tips to prevent a smoking-related fire:

1) Smoke outside and extinguish cigarettes in a sturdy ashtray filled with sand or water.

2) Do not discard cigarettes in potted plants, leaves, mulch, or other vegetation.

3) Do not smoke while on oxygen or while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Smith said that alcohol can play a role, too. "We're not saying don't drink or don't smoke. We just want people to be responsible about it."

He's a former smoker himself, and knows it can be hard to quit. But these sobering stats about fire deaths, could give you more incentive. He also said to remember to have working smoke detectors. 

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