Minnesota fire deaths trending up, most can be prevented

Rise in fire deaths

Rise in fire deaths

The number of people dying in fires in Minnesota is trending up, with the highest number of fire deaths in more than 25 years happening in 2022.

Alarming. That’s the word used by Minnesota State Fire Marshal Division’s chief deputy, Amanda Swenson, surrounding the 70 fire deaths last year.

“It’s 70 Minnesotans with lives cut too short. Their families, their jobs, communities [are] left with a hole in them because something happened tragically,” Swenson said.

According to the State Fire Marshal, starting in 2018, there has been a steady increase in the number of Minnesotans who have died in a fire.

Minnesota Fire Deaths:

  • 2018: 37
  • 2019: 47
  • 2020: 62
  • 2021: 67
  • 2022: 70

According to the State Fire Marshal Division

While the cause is undetermined in the majority of fire deaths in 2022 – at 40 – the next two leading factors are accidental and smoking, including smoking while on oxygen. Still, Swenson believes many of the undetermined causes are likely accidental.

“Some of these things are, you know, things they’ve done in felt safe around until tragically, one time it’s not,” Swenson added.

When the most recent numbers were finalized, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety sent out a news release with the findings – it included key takeaways:

  • 59% of all deadly fires happened in 30 counties in greater Minnesota (41/70 deaths)
  • There were 9.7 deadly fires/million people in the seven-metro Twin Cities area
  • 48% of deaths were men, 22 were women
  • While the age range of victims was six to 90 years old, the average victim was 56 years old

According to the State Fire Marshal Division

So far in 2023, there have been 26 fire deaths which is only two-off from the pace last year at this point. While that number seems like an improvement, the SFMD says, there is often a lag in data reporting as it verifies the cause of death.

Over the weekend, one man died in a Minneapolis house fire, marking the ninth fire death in the city so far this year, a sharp increase from the three it had in 2022.

“Any fatality or injury is tragic for us and that’s not something that we want on the fire department. Our first number one priority is life safety,” Assistant Chief Melanie Rucker with the Minneapolis Fire Department said.

Both MFD and SFMD state that while these deaths are tragic, many of them can be prevented.

Information on how to prevent a fire can be found here. Information on how to receive free smoke detectors can be found here.