The State Fire Marshal reported that fire deaths are down in Minnesota. Thirty-six people died last year in fires, a 47 percent drop from 2017 when 68 people died. Last year’s drop in fire deaths comes on the heels of a particularly deadly 2017, which saw the most fire deaths in Minnesota since 1995. According to preliminary data, the leading cause of fatal fires last year in Minnesota was careless smoking, followed by cooking, and portable heaters. State Fire Marshal Bruce West said it is difficult to pinpoint a reason for the decrease in fire deaths. He credits Minnesota fire departments for getting out into their communities and teaching people about fire prevention and fire safety.