Almost half of fire deaths attributed to careless smoking

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This year, fire accidents have claimed the lives of 74 people in Latvia, with reckless smoking causing nearly half of these deaths, Kristaps Eklons, deputy head of the State Fire and Rescue Service, said at a news conference on fire safety issues on December 13.

To a small country like Latvia, 74 fatalities is a huge loss of human and economic resources, Eklons said.

Contrary to the widespread belief that lethal fires usually happen at night, the fire service’s statistics show the opposite, as 53 of this year’s fire victims died between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m.

Around 45 of the fire victims were older than 60, and 30 of the victims were homeless or destitute persons. Eklons suspects that the actual number of such fire victims might be even higher. He admitted that the State Fire and Rescue Service’s possibilities to educate this social group about fire safety are limited but that the tragic statistics reveal the role of economic circumstances in causing deadly fires.

“A more developed economy would reduce the number of poor people who only think about surviving. At the same time, I would like to urge people to be careful and talk to such people about safety,” the deputy head of the State Fire and Rescue Service said.

Eklons said that the most dramatic and shocking fact was that 35 of the fire victims died because of smoking.

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