23 reported fire fatalities in Alabama so far this year

Updated: Apr. 5, 2019 at 7:39 PM EDT
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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - So far this year, there have been 23 fire fatalities in the state of Alabama.

“You’re looking at, on average, seven fire fatalities a month," said Scott Pilgreen, Alabama’s state fire marshal.

Compared to this time last year, the number of fire fatalities is up. According to the Alabama Fire Marshal’s Office, at this time last year, there were 21 fire fatalities.

“I think it’s fair to say that we’re probably a little bit above the last two-year trend. Again, we’re just hoping that it slows down," Pilgreen said.

On Tuesday, a 7-year-old boy died in a house fire in Butler County, and earlier this year, an elderly man in a wheelchair was unable to escape from his burning home.

“That still puts Alabama probably in the top 10 per capita in the number of fire related deaths that we have, and we have to change that number," Pilgreen said.

This topic is personal to Pilgreen, as he fell victim to a house fire years back.

“When I lived in Lee County, something that I did, which knew better, it actually caused a fire at my house. Fortunately, nobody was hurt, but my point to using me as an example is that we’re all guilty of it," Pilgreen said. “We all have habits and behaviors that we’ve always done that’s never been a problem, but it could become one.”

According to Pilgreen, house fires are something that happen all too often in Alabama, and to lower that number, Pilgreen said it starts with prevention.

“Once we identify the cause or causes, then we can have conversations and we can put it out there and try and encourage people again to go back and examine what they do," Pilgreen said.

Pilgreen offered some fire safety prevention tips, including: install a smoke alarm, avoid using space heaters, avoid smoking in the house, and have an escape plan in case of an emergency.

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