Number of fire fatalities in Alabama for year reaches 50 - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Number of fire fatalities in Alabama for year reaches 50

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The leading causes of fire and fire deaths are smoking, cooking, and heating equipment. (Source: MGN) The leading causes of fire and fire deaths are smoking, cooking, and heating equipment. (Source: MGN)
HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) -

Three people were killed in house fires in Alabama in the week of March 23.

On Sunday, an elderly woman died in Alexander city, when the room she was sleeping in caught fire from a cigarette.

On Thursday, two sleeping children in Decatur were killed when a fire ripped through their family's apartment.

"A large number of the fires we fight that result in fatalities seem to occur at night," said Captain Russ Kennington of Madison Fire and Rescue. "It's when people are sleeping."

Their deaths bring the total number of fire fatalities in Alabama to 50. A number the state fire marshal said is alarming.

"The alarming thing is that we have nine more months," said State Fire Marshal Edward Paulk. "With this number in just the first three months, we could have a total that is record setting."

According to him, just two states have more fire deaths this year. New York with 68 and Texas with 54, two states that have a considerably higher population than Alabama. Children under the age of 4, and adults over the age of 65 are more at risk to die in a fire.

"The types of materials found in houses today produce very toxic gases," said Kennington."It's usually those gases that cause the deaths. It's usually not from thermal burns."

The leading causes of fire and fire deaths are smoking, cooking, and heating equipment.

"Open flames, and children, and pets do not mix," Paulk continued. "They don't understand or appreciate the dangers of a fire, and they either knock combustibles into the flames, or knock the flames over into combustibles."

One-third of house fire deaths occur in homes without smoke alarms, and most house fires occur in winter months. Firefighters said once you escape a burning building, do not go back inside.

There are several things you can do to protect your family from a fire: have at least one working smoke alarm on every level of your house, have a fire extinguisher handy, make an escape plan, and practice it.

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