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Minn. fire deaths up 30 percent this year

ST. PAUL -- Fire deaths have increased 30 percent in Minnesota so far this year to 56, and officials are worried about the historically dangerous holiday season.

Last year at this time, there were 42 fire deaths. In 2015, there were 57 deaths, the highest number since 2002 when there were 64. The state’s all-time low figure was 35 in 2009 and the highest was 134 in 1976.

The three leading causes of residential fires in Minnesota are all holiday staples: cooking, heating and open flames, although the leading cause of fatal fires in Minnesota is careless smoking.

Some tips for the holiday season include staying in the kitchen while cooking, setting a timer if using the oven, plugging space heaters directly into outlets, keeping flammable items away from candles, keeping the Christmas tree watered and testing smoke alarms before holiday gatherings.

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