Michigan fire deaths rise: Tips for protecting your house

Fire deaths increased by 144% in Michigan in January

Across the state of Michigan, there has been a dramatic increase in fatal fires.

DETROIT – Across the state of Michigan, there has been a dramatic increase in fatal fires.

Last week, a 60-year-old man died in a house fire on Ellsworth Street on Detroit’s west side. Investigators believed that fire started accidentally.

“It’s definitely troubling,” said Dave Fornell, deputy fire commissioner in Detroit.

In January alone, fire-related deaths in Michigan increased by 144% compared with the same time last year.

Read: Michigan’s January fire deaths up 144 percent over 2021

“The good news is, in Detroit, the trend is downward,” Fornell said. ”But when you see the statewide (trend), it’s extremely troubling.”

The Bureau of Fire Services recorded 18 fires resulting in 22 deaths -- all of which they say were accidental and preventable.

Officials say that more than half of residential fires begin in the living room or bedroom, with the top three causes being smoking, heating devices and cooking.

“If you suspect anything, smell smoke or an odor, call 911 and get us out there to take a look at it,” Fornell said.

There are things you can do to protect yourself from a fatal fire.

The easiest way you can help your household is to ensure you have working smoke alarms. Officials say to be sure to check the batteries on smoke detectors, and to contact the fire department if you are in need of batteries. Some departments, like Detroit’s, offer programs to help ensure you have working smoke alarms.

Portable space heaters are one of the leading causes of house fires. Often times, the heaters are placed too close to curtains, bedding or furniture.

Experts say that space heaters should be plugged directly into an electrical outlet -- never use an extension cord.

For people who smoke, it is encouraged that you smoke outside rather than inside. Officials recommend putting water on ashes and butts, as well, to ensure they are fully extinguished before throwing them out.

Regardless of your living habits, it is always a good idea to have and be familiar with a fire scape plan. Experts suggest practicing a fire escape plan with the entire family.

If your household does experience a fire, call 911 once you’re safely outside.

“When we talk about fire deaths, the best way to reduce that is to get a working smoke detector that will enable you to get you outside the house,” Fornell said.

Related: Morning fire causes damage at Detroit apartment building

About the Author:

Priya joined WDIV-Local 4 in 2013 as a reporter and fill-in anchor. Education: B.A. in Communications/Post Grad in Advanced Journalism