Cigarettes fueling rise in Minnesota's preventable fire deaths

  • Source: WCCO-TV CBS 4 Minneapolis
  • Published: 07/27/2022 12:00 AM

Drought conditions around the Twin Cities metro have substantially increased the risk of fires, a problem Minnesota's struggling with this year. Cigarette-related fires, specifically, are on pace to be more deadly any year on average in the last decade. Ralph Swarm died from his injuries in a barn fire in Foreston in May. His family says it was a cigarette ember that started it. Rick Scharber, Swarm's brother-in-law, is now in physical therapy after overcoming renal failure following the fire and nine surgeries. "My heart aches for every single one of these people that have suffered a loss of a family member due to something that was preventable," said State Fire Marshal Jim Smith. Smith says there have been an average of eight or nine cigarette-related fire deaths a year over the last decade. There have already been seven this year.


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