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Fatal fires at an alarming number

Alabama is one of the nations leaders in fire fatalities.
Alabama is one of the nation’s leaders in fire fatalities, but they're looking to change that and rolling out a new campaign.

Last year 81 people died in a structure fire and the state is quickly reaching that number and we’re only half way through the year.

"Our concern is this year just in June we're already at 62 fatalities related to fire in our state. So, that’s a tremendous number being only half way through the year,” said Dothan Fire Marshal Chris Etheredge.

The state falls to number four in the nation with overall fire related deaths this year, leading the nation is New York.

Etheredge tells us the spike was caused by the cold winter.

"This year we have seen that we had an abnormally long and specifically cold winter and we've had more fatalities in January than we've ever had in our state so we're attributing it a lot to alternative heating,” said Etheredge.

There were 28 fire deaths in January alone, so now the state is taking charge with a new campaign, “Turn Your Attention to Fire Prevention.”

"We need to turn our attention to fire prevention year around. We do a great job of focusing on those fire behaviors, teaching our children and getting out in our community during fire prevention week and fire prevention month in October,” said Etheredge. “We want to do that year around and prevent those fatalities rather than respond to them we want to prevent them."

The first step is taking a look into what the city already has in place.

"We’ll look at our numbers, what impacts our specific community and what programs we have in place and how we can enhance those and make those better and introduce new programs to prevent deaths,” said Etheredge.”

Last year Dothan had three fire deaths and this year there have been none.

“We hope that if we continue doing the things were doing, improving the programs we have that are existing that we won’t experience any for the rest of the year,” said Etheredge.

The Dothan Fire Department has a program in place to install free fire detectors. You can call the department at 334-615-3473.
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