MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Health officials say careless smoking was the leading cause of fatal fires in Minnesota in 2020.

Fifty-three people died in fires last year, a 13% increase over 2019.

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety says seven deaths last year were attributed to careless smoking, the fifth consecutive year it led to fatal fires.

The department says six victims died in fires that were attributed to gas leaks and five people died in cooking fires, the most since 2013.

Health officials say 70% of the fire deaths involved people 50 and older.

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