State Fire Marshal Butch Browning says the state is seeing fewer fatalities in fires so far in 2019 compared to other years with 16 fatal fires killing 17.  Browning said the decline is welcomed news when factoring in the last two years.

“Now at this same time last year, that number was thirty deaths and in 2017 that number was twenty deaths,” said Browning.

Browning credited a more mild winter as a contributing factor for the lower numbers, due to the less frequent use of space heaters and a lessened strain being put on electrical systems in older homes.

“We do believe that was a contributing factor, that the electrical systems and electrical appliance weren’t put to the max for a long period of time,” said Browning.

Although fewer deaths is a welcomed trend, Browning said even one death is not an acceptable number, so those that work in the firefighting industry across the state work very hard in educating the public about fire safety and prevention.

“We look at every death as a tragedy.  We know what it does to families.  We know what it does to communities.  So we’re working really hard to make sure people are mindful of the things that prevent fires,” said Browning.