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April 1, 2010 at 10:29 AM

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State fire marshal: 59 people died in fires in 2009

Posted by John de Leon

-- From Times staff reporter Susan Gilmore:

In 2009, there were more than 25,000 fires in the state, resulting in 59 deaths and more than $239 million in property damage, according to the annual report from the state Fire Marshal's Office. King County had the highest number of fatal fires last year with 13, followed by Snohomish County with seven.

The 59 fire-related deaths was the highest since 2006, when 67 people died in fires. The lowest year in the past decade was 2003, when there were 43 deaths; the highest was in 2002 with 71 deaths.

Of the 2009 deaths, smoking was the leading cause at 17 percent. Electrical-related fires were second at 14 percent and arsons were 10 percent.

Also included in the report:

-- Of the 59 fire fatalities reported last year, 47 were in places were alarms or detectors were present. One fatality was in a building equipped with fire sprinklers, but the fire started on or near the person and was not large enough to activate the fire-suppression system.

-- Smoking-related fires have historically been the leading cause of fire fatalities in the state and over the past five years nearly 18 percent of fatalities have been smoking related. About eight percent of fatalities were arson-related.

-- In the past five years there were 55,803 fires in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties, causing $457 million in damages.

To view the full report, click here.

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