Mississippi fire deaths up by almost 50% in 2018

Published 4:44 pm Friday, January 4, 2019

JACKSON – The Mississippi State Fire Marshal Office reported this week that 79 people died in fires during 2018, compared to only 53 fire deaths in 2017. Most of those deaths, state fire leaders say, could have been prevented with working smoke alarms.

State Chief Deputy Fire Marshal Ricky Davis said the number increased, but is far from a record.

“As recently as 2006, the state fire marshal’s office has investigated upwards of 100 fire deaths,” Davis said. “In fact, in the last five years, we’ve significantly lowered the number of preventable fire deaths across the state. I can’t say specifically why the numbers are higher this year but, in a majority of these cases, a working smoke alarm could have saved lives.”

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Of the 79 fire deaths, the state fire marshal’s office investigated 74 of those, with local fire investigators handling the other five deaths.

Out of the 74 fire deaths investigated by state, more than half did not have working smoke alarms present.

State Fire Marshal Mike Chaney says in 12 cases there were smoke alarms but they didn’t work.

“It’s upsetting because these fires were preventable and, in every one of these cases, a life could have been saved,” Chaney said. “The state fire marshal office doesn’t just investigate after a fire has occurred. Our educators are out working in communities and schools every day.”

State fire marshal’s office educators reached more than 41,000 people in 2018 and visited more than 300 schools.

“Still, more people need to install and maintain smoke alarms and make escape plans specific to their home,” Chaney said. “One fire death is one too many.”

The deadly fires were caused by a variety of things including one fire which was caused by a child playing with a lighter.

Electrical fires top the list, resulting in 21 deaths. In 13 of the death cases, a cause for the fire could not be determined.


Child playing with lighter 1
Microwave Explosion/Clothing fire 1
Vehicle exhaust/grass 1
Cooking 11
Undetermined 13
Smoking 13
Heating 13
Electrical 21


Adams 4
Alcorn 2
Benton 1
Calhoun 2
Carroll 1
Claiborne 1
Clay 2
Chickasaw 2
Desoto 3
Forrest 2
Harrison 6
Hinds 1
Holmes 1
Jackson 3
Jasper 1
Jefferson Davis 4
Jones 3
Lafayette 2
Lauderdale 1
Lee 1
Lincoln 1
Lowndes 1
Madison 1
Marion 1
Montgomery 2
Neshoba 4
Pike 2
Pontotoc 1
Prentiss 1
Quitman 4
Simpson 3
Sunflower 2
Tishomingo 1
Union 1
Washington 3
Wilkinson 2
Yazoo 1