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10-1-20 – JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT)

It’s fall and temperatures will get colder along with the increase in fires and deaths with one national organization reporting that the Magnolia State leads the nation in fire-related causalities.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, Mississippi has been among the highest in fire deaths for nearly four decades.

Tuesday, six-year-old Kealen Andrew died of smoke inhalation after being trapped inside his Warren County home. The State Fire Marshal said the blaze started from a hoverboard that caught fire that he plugged into an outlet near his bed. There were also no working smoke alarms in the home.

The NFPA states per capita Mississippi has been among the highest in fire fatalities for 39 years dating back to 1981. State Fire Marshal Mike Chaney said fire deaths for 2019 were not the highest in the nation but extremely high compared to other states.

“The 2020 fire deaths have jumped back up,” said Chaney. “We’ve had 48 deaths so far as I make this report versus 64 the same time period last year and, as the commissioner state fire marshal, I worry about the fact that we’re already having cold snaps.”

The NFPA attributes poverty and living in rural areas to the high rate of fire deaths. So far in 2020, 48 people have died in fires.

Chaney said due to budget cuts, his agency was not able to distribute free smoke detectors which he said after 2018 reduced fire fatalities by 20 percent.

“We had seven fire deaths in Clinton several months ago for lack of working smoke alarms,” said the State Fire Marshal. “It was just a tragedy that should not have happened, but we tend to lose consciousness of what smoke alarms do for us. Smoke alarms save lives.”

Now is the time to buy and install smoke detectors if you don’t have them and be sure to test your batteries if you do.

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