A string of multiple-fatality home blazes made December Ohio’s deadliest fire month of 2014 and pushed the year’s death toll to 115.
Statistics requested by The Associated Press from the state fire marshal’s office show 16 people were killed by fires last month, causing an increase in the year’s death toll after three straight years of declining numbers. The state reported 103 fire deaths in 2013, after 106 in 2012, 128 in 2011 and 155 in 2010. The 2013 total had been the fewest in 27 years.
An early morning house fire in Hamilton killed three children in southwest Ohio on Dec. 12. Their parents and two other children survived the fire, which is still under investigation.
Two adults were killed in a Dec. 24 mobile home fire in Monroe County in eastern Ohio. On Dec. 26, a woman and her three grandsons died in a fire in her home near Washington Court House in southwest Ohio. There were no survivors in those fires.
There have been seven fire deaths already this year, with five people killed in the morning on Jan. 6 in a trailer home fire in southeast Ohio, meaning a total 14 people have died in four multiple-fatality house fires in less than four weeks’ time.
State fire marshal’s spokeswoman Lindsey Burnworth said it’s difficult to say why there’s been a recent surge in fire deaths since most of the fires’ causes are still under investigation.
The fire marshal’s office said that there was no reason to suspect criminal activity in the Tuesday fire near Sugar Grove that injured two people besides killing five that included a 10-month-old boy. Investigators said electrical and heating sources hadn’t been ruled out as the fire’s cause.
Several non-fatal home fires in recent days have been linked by firefighters to space heaters as winter temperatures have plunged.
“With the extremely cold temperatures we are currently facing, please remember to check your home’s heat sources and use caution with any space heaters, generators or electrical outlets,” State Fire Marshal Larry Flowers said in a statement.
He also urges Ohioans to have smoke alarms on every level of their homes and in all sleeping areas and that families practice fire escape plans.
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