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Fire fatalities rose in 2010

The death of an Atmore toddler last year added to the total number of fire deaths reported in Alabama for 2010. The recently released report shows a more than 40 percent increase in fire deaths across the state last year.

Alabama State Fire Marshal Ed Paulk’s office in Montgomery issued the report last week the number of fire fatalities jumped to 122 in 2010 from 85 the previous year. The figure shows a 43.5 percent increase in fatalities resulting from fires across the state.

“This is neither the highest nor the lowest annual total on record,” Paulk said. “We’d prefer to see zero fire fatalities, though.”

The death of 4-year-old Dylan Barnhill was the result of a fire at the home of the child on 6th Avenue last February. The fire totally consumed the fire with other members of the family escaping without injuries.

At the time of the initial investigation, Paulk, who was on the scene following the fire, said it appeared the fire began in the kitchen area of the home.

Although 122 fatalities were reported across the state in 2010, Paulk said the high number is well below half of those on record in 1962.

“In 1962, the old record of 241 was obliterated when 271 fire fatalities was recorded,” Paulk said. “That’s well over twice the total of 122 reported in 1997 and again in 2010. Addressing numbers from this perspective indicates that overall averages are falling but there’s still room for improvement.”

Paul said members of the state’s fire service are working hard to spread the message of fire safety to reduce the risk of fires and to save lives.

“Fire safety education goes hand in hand with modern smoke detectors, sprinklers and fire alarms,” Paulk said. “All of that is essential to keeping our citizens as safe as possible.”

For more on this story see Saturday’s edition of The Atmore Advance.