Following an especially deadly 2017, Minnesota fire deaths fell in 2018 to their lowest level in a decade.
Thirty-seven people died in fires last year, according to final numbers the Department of Public Safety released Tuesday. That compares to a decade-high 68 deaths in 2017 and a low of 35 deaths in 2009.
A majority of the victims were older than 50, and "careless smoking" was cited as the leading cause of fires, according to the release.
In nearly a third of the homes where people died, there were no working smoke alarms.
“We must always keep our guard up because a devastating fire can happen to anyone,” State Fire Marshal Bruce West said in a statement. “It is common for us to see peaks and valleys with fire deaths but we all need to continue working together toward the ultimate goal: zero fire deaths in Minnesota.”
While the rate of death by fire has fallen sharply since the 1970s, progress has leveled off in the past 20 years.
Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms should be tested every month, and batteries should be changed at least once per year, according to the State Fire Marshal's Office. Alarms should be installed on every level and outside all sleeping areas.