YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Fire deaths in Ohio are up for 2015: 117 people died in fires this year in the Buckeye State, according to the Ohio State Fire Marshal’s Office.
Tuesday, the State Fire Marshal prevention chief announced the numbers.
Its report says Columbiana County had seven fire fatalities, giving it as many as any other county in Ohio. The report did not count fires that were considered acts of arson.
The state tallied two fatal fires in Trumbull County and three in Mahoning County.
Overall, Cuyahoga County had the most fire-related fatalities at 14 last year. Those ages 60 and older made up the majority of fire-related fatalities in the state — with 50 people ages 60 and older killed in a blaze.
Many of those fires reported did not have a smoke alarm in the home, and many of the fires’ causes were ruled undetermined.
The State Fire Marshal says many of the fires were ruled undermined because investigators have to be sure of a fire’s cause. Often, investigators will narrow down a likely cause to two or three possibilities, and due to extensive fire damage, one cause cannot be determined.
The most fire-related fatalities were reported in January, likely due to heating systems in use during that time. The report indicates that five fires were due to heating and two due to a wood burning stove.
The numbers don’t include any criminal cases. Youngstown Fire Chief John O’Neill says he thinks the city has had eight fatal fires so far this year, likely all criminal.
As far as those non-criminal fires, O’Neill said cooking fires are big in the city of Youngstown and have always been. People using oxygen and smoking or being around smoke, as well as a heat source, also contribute to a number of fires.
Extra oxygen use can enrich your clothing, bedding and furniture to help accelerate a fire.
As the temperature cools down, don’t forget to keep kerosene heaters outside, O’Neill said. Also, he advised being careful with space heaters, to turn them off when you leave a room. It does seem like common knowledge, but it is so important to have working smoke detectors in your house. Smoke detectors typically only have a shelf life of 10 years.
Here are some other ways you can stay safe as the winter continues:
- Dispose of real Christmas trees when they become dry.
- Check holiday lights as you take them down. Dispose of any frayed or non-working stands.
- Plug space heaters directly into the wall.
- Do not overload electrical outlets or extension cords.
- Space heaters need space. Keep flammable objects at least three feet from any heat source.
- Do not use the kitchen oven range to heat your home.
- Install a smoke alarm on each level of the home, inside and outside of each bedroom.
- Have a fire escape plan with two ways out.