JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi saw a big jump in fire deaths in 2018.
The state Fire Marshal's Office says 79 people died in blazes last year, up from 56 statewide in 2017.
State Chief Deputy Fire Marshal Ricky Davis says he's unsure why fire deaths increased. Of 74 deaths investigated by the office, 38 were in cases with no smoke alarm present. In 12 more cases, smoke alarms didn't work.
Although numbers jumped, Davis said that as recently as 2006, his office investigated more than 100 fire deaths a year.
The office is part of the Mississippi Department of Insurance. Commissioner Mike Chaney, a Republican, urges people to install and maintain smoke alarms.
Electrical fires topped the list, resulting in 21 deaths. Harrison County saw six fire deaths, the most of any county.
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