ST. PAUL -- A total of eight people have died in Minnesota fires already in 2020, and four of the deaths were likely smoking-related, officials said Friday, Jan. 24.

There were three fire deaths at this time last year in Minnesota, according to the office of State Fire Marshal Jim Smith. Smoking is typically the leading cause of fatal fires each year in Minnesota.

Early investigations into the deaths also indicate seven of the eight victims who died in fires this year are over age 50. The average age of victims who died in smoking-related fires between 2009 and 2019 is 61, according to a release.

At least seven people died in smoking-related fires in 2019.

Smith's office released these tips to prevent a smoking-related fire:

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

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

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

“I was a smoker for 30 years. I know how hard it is to quit,” Smith said in the release. “But it’s not hard to smoke outside and properly extinguish your cigarettes in a sturdy container filled with sand or water. It’s not hard to talk to your loved ones who smoke and ask them to do these things.”

  • 2009: 10

  • 2010: 7

  • 2011: 10

  • 2012: 10

  • 2013: 6

  • 2014: 8

  • 2015: 9

  • 2016: 7

  • 2017: 11

  • 2018: 9

  • 2019: 7 (preliminary)

  • 2020: 4 (preliminary)

“Smoking can kill you more ways than one,” Smith said in the release. “Year after year, people die in preventable smoking-related fires and, to be honest, it’s frustrating.”