New state fire statistics show that 50 people in Minnesota were killed by fires in 2012. That's six fewer deaths than the previous year.
The decline in deaths happened during a period when the overall number of fires in the state increased 12 percent.
Widespread use of smoke alarms and sprinkler systems have helped cut fire deaths in Minnesota by more than half since the 1970s, state Fire Marshal Jerry Rosendahl said.
But fire officials say residents can do even more to lessen their chances of dying in a fire.
Rosendahl said careless behaviors continue to cause nearly half of Minnesota's building fires. He said caution is particularly called for in kitchens, because cooking remains the number one cause of building fires in the state.
"Make sure that the pan handles are turned away, so we don't have somebody bumping in to them and spilling grease or whatever all over the place," Rosendahl said. "We have to make sure that you don't turn on the oven and then just go take a nap.
"That is just such a preventable fire," he said. "We need to be more careful in the kitchen, and pay attention, and we can reduce those tragic fires."
Rosendahl said woodstoves and other heating devices also cause a lot of building fires, along with candles and careless smoking.