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Fire officials prepare for busy holiday season — and offer tips for fire safety

Nov 20, 2022 06:37AM ● By Editor

Watch the KARE 11 Video here

By  Danny Spewak from KARE 11 News • November 18, 2022

As the temperatures dropped this week, several major fires broke out at homes and residential buildings in Minnesota and northern Iowa.

On Wednesday, a house fire caused by an overloaded power strip killed four young children in Mason City, Iowa, while in Edina, nine condominium units were destroyed by a fire that investigators believe started in a second-floor kitchen. On Friday afternoon, a home in St. Francis also caught fire, although nobody was there at the time. 

Jim Smith, the State Fire Marshal for Minnesota, said our state usually sees the most deadly fires between Thanksgiving and New Year's. Last year, during this holiday time period, Minnesota reported 16 deadly fires, along with hundreds of other non-fatal fires that required an emergency response.

"No time is a good time for a fire. But a fire this time of year? Man, is that devastating," Smith said. "It's so important to be fire safe."

Heading into the holidays this year, Smith offered a few helpful reminders:

  1. Be especially careful when it comes to cooking and smoking. These are two of the top causes of fires in Minnesota, Smith said. "During your holiday festivities, make sure that all your cigarettes or cigars are put out completely before you go to bed. Make sure no ashes have dropped anywhere," Smith said. "As friends and family come over for the holidays, it's really easy to mingle with them and talk to them but don't take your eyes off the stove. Don't leave the kitchen. We have so many cooking fires this time of year, most of it simply due to inattentiveness."
  2. Beware of space heaters. Smith said you should not plug them into extension cords, since they may draw too much power and overload the system. Also, do not put the space heaters near your bed. "People, when they sleep, they toss and turn and a blanket or something comes off the bed. Keep the space heater far enough away," Smith said.
  3. Get your furnaces and water heaters checked by a licensed professional. 
  4. Make sure your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are working properly.
  5. If you have a real Christmas tree, make sure to water it. "A dry tree," Smith said, "is just a disaster waiting to happen."
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