Is West Virginia the most deadly state for fires? - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Is West Virginia the most deadly state for fires?

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Governor Earl Ray Tomblin says West Virginia is the most deadly state for fires.  According to the West Virginia State Fire Marshal's Office, there have been 53 fire fatalities in the state, since January 1, 2013.

Investigators with the state fire marshal's office say there are reasons for these deadly fires.

Travel time for firefighters is a factor, since West Virginia is the second most rural state in the country.  West Virginia also has a high population of people with disabilities, older adults, and smokers.  Retention and recruitment issues at fire departments is also a problem.

Arson is also the cause of many of the fires.

Cooking, heating, electrical problems, and open flames and embers, which include smoking and candle fires are other major reasons for fires in the state, according to investigators.

"West Virginia is in mourning after a devastating fire in Randolph County...  Our hearts are broken.  Those who perished include four children: an 11-year-old, a 4-year-old, and 2-year-old twins.  Sadly, these precious lives aren't the only ones lost to fire this year.  The death toll from fires in the Mountain State since Jan. 1 now exceeds 50. West Virginia leads all other states for its fire fatality rate, according to the latest federal figures.  West Virginians are more than three times more likely to die in a fire than the general U.S. population.," wrote Tomblin in an op-ed column.

A father and his four children were killed in a fire in Elkins, Randolph County last month. Investigators believe a cigarette could be to blame.