Fire deaths drop in 2002

Posted: Wednesday, January 08, 2003

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Alaska saw fewer fire deaths in 2002 than in any year since 1961, when recording such deaths began, the State Fire Marshal's Office said in a press release.

Nine Alaskans died from fire in 2002, the office said. The average number of deaths per year over the past decade has been 19.

The previous lowest number of fire deaths in Alaska was 13, in 1986. The Division of Fire Prevention attributes the lower number in 2002 to fire departments statewide conducting more fire safety education programs.

The 2002 deaths were spread around the state. Anchorage, Fairbanks, Ketchikan, Gambell, Homer, Bethel and Thorne Bay all saw people lost to fire, the office says.

Of the fatal fires, five of the homes did not have a working smoke alarm, the office says. Three of the deaths were caused by fires started by combustibles placed too close to a heat source -- a space heater too close to a bed, materials dropped next to a space heater and materials placed too close to a wood stove.

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