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Washington sees rise in fire fatalities in 2009
Kitsap County has no confirmed fire-related deaths so far.
In the first 71 days of this year, 18 people died as a result of fires in Washington, according to the Office of the State Fire Marshal.
That’s a 157 percent increase compared to the same time period last year.
Kitsap County Fire Marshal David Lynam said none of those fatalities were in Kitsap County, but local fire agencies have responded to many damaging fires so far this year.
“We’ve been to a number of fires that were significant losses,” Lynam said. “We’ve had several recently that have caused $50,000-$60,000 of damage to homes.”
Lynam said Kitsap County typically has one to three fire fatalities in a year. He added that the last fatality in the county occurred in Port Orchard in April 2008.
Lynam said people can take several steps to prevent fires from sparking inside their homes.
He said cooking fires are a big problem and people should keep a close eye on the kitchen while preparing food. People also should make sure to extinguish all smoking materials in non-combustible, sturdy containers.
“Watch your open flames and be very cautious about your smoking and your cooking,” Lynam said.
Most fire fatalities occur at night, so he suggested people make sure all open flames are extinguished before going to sleep.
Lynam said a working smoke alarm should be placed just outside all sleeping areas in a home and, in some cases, inside each one.
“The first thing we’d make sure with everybody is no one goes to bed without a working smoke alarm,” he said.
Lynam said residential sprinkler systems also can snuff out fires before they get out of control. It can get pricey to install a sprinkler system inside a home, but he recommends all new construction be outfitted with sprinklers.
“It’s operable all the time,” Lynam said of sprinkler
A dryer fire at the Discovery Depot Montessori School on Tracyton Avenue in Bremerton March 11 was snuffed out by a working sprinkler system before causing any major damage. When Central Kitsap Fire & Rescue crews arrived to the scene, a sprinkler head was dousing the flames with water, confining the blaze to the dryer.
Lynam said even with a working sprinkler system and smoke alarms, people still need to take the appropriate steps to keep their homes safe from fires.
“People still need to be diligent,” he said. “But by far the quickest and easiest thing you could do tonight is get yourself a working smoke alarm in or outside of the bedroom.”