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St. Paul, MN (KROC-AM News) - Careless smoking remained the number one known cause of fire deaths in Minnesota last year.

Preliminary statistics reported by the State Fire Marshal indicate at least 53 people died as a result of fires that occurred in the state in 2020. That's up 13-percent when compared to 2019 and was the highest fire-related death toll in Minnesota since 2017 when there were 68 fire fatalities.

The data shows a majority of the fatal fires occurred in single-family homes and nearly 70-percent of the victims were at least 50 years old. The statistics also show over 60 percent of the deadly fires were reported during the winter or in the late spring with January and May listed as the deadliest months last year.

While careless smoking is listed by the State Fire Marshal as the top known cause, in over half of the cases, the cause could not be determined. The second leading known cause of fire deaths in 2020 was gas explosions.

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