ST. PAUL -- Eight people have died in fires in Minnesota already this year, and officials say half of them are smoking-related.

An 80-year-old woman from Maple Grove, and an 83-year-old man in Montevideo, a 77-year-old woman from Eveleth, and a 29-year-old man from St. Paul have all died in fires that were started by a lit cigarette.

Smoking is typically the leading cause of fatal fires each year in Minnesota.

The state fire marshal offers the following tips to prevent a smoking-related fire:
-- Smoke outside and extinguish cigarettes in a sturdy ashtray filled with sand or water
-- Do not discard cigarettes in potted plants, leaves, mulch, or other vegetation
-- Do not smoke while on oxygen or while under the influence of drugs or alcohol

At least seven people died in smoking-related fires in 2019.

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