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Spike in Smoking Fire Fatalities

So far eight people have died in fires throughout Alaska in 2014.  In May alone, four people died in fires caused by smoking and alcohol use. The Alaska Division of Fire and Life Safety issued a press release last week that urges Alaskans to be careful when drinking and smoking.

According to the United States Fire Administration, smokers are more likely to drink alcohol than non-smokers and careless smoking is the number one cause of residential fires.

The Alaska Division of Fire and Life Safety’s Public Education Coordinator Mahlon Greene says that the impaired judgment and slow reflexes that come with drugs and alcohol are the leading factor of careless smoking fires. 

“Heavy drinkers, alcoholics, that type of thing, drug users, seem to be heavy smokers by nature. It’s just discarded cigarettes, falling asleep, passing out that sort of thing, causes these fires.”

Greene says with the recent fire in the Kenai Peninsula it’s especially important that Alaskans are careful and take precautions to avoid a fire.

“The biggest thing of course is to not to mix alcohol and drug abuse with smoking. The other thing is to make it a habit to have safe, fire resistant ash trays that don’t trip over, large ash trays. Make sure cigarettes are totally out before discarding. Definitely make sure there are working smoke alarms. A lot of times the ones that are there don’t work. It’s important to have smoke alarms that work so that if there is an accidental fire, the smoke alarm should alert the person and get them out to safety before they succumb to the heavy smoke and fire.”

The Alaska Division of Fire and Life Safety says other ways to prevent smoking fires include never smoking in bed, be careful when mixing alcohol and drugs while smoking and completely dousing cigarettes with water before disposing of them.