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Fire Fatalities Hit Record Low in 2011 According to Delaware State Fire Marshal - -Smoke detectors work in Delaware-
Sunday, January 1, 2012

Story published by The News Journal -, December 30, 2011

Two people have died in fires in Delaware in 2011 -- the smallest number since the state Fire Marshal's Office began keeping fatality statistics in the 1970s.

The number of residential fire deaths was down significantly from 15 in 2010.

In both instances, neither of the victims' homes was equipped with a smoke detector, Assistant State Fire Marshal Michael Chionchio said.

On Feb. 4, an 81-year-old man lost his life when a fire broke out at his home in the 300 block of Welch Tract Road in Newark. The cause was attributed to a portable heater that was too close to combustibles.

Then, on March 3, a 64-year-old woman died when a fire ripped through her Frankford home in the 34000 block of Pyle Center Road. An investigation determined it was triggered by an electrical malfunction.

Chionchio credited the drop in fatalities to smoke alarms.

"Detecting the fire in its early stages through a smoke alarm and then knowing what to do when the alarm sounds by having an escape plan greatly increase your chances of survival," Chionchio said.

Volunteer firefighters in the state have invested thousands of hours doing fire prevention with open houses, public displays and school visits, he said.

This year's low number is "a nice reward" for all their efforts, Chionchio said.

In the last decade, Delaware has lost 101 people in fatal fires.

An additional 26 died in 2001, the year that 11 family members died in their Oak Orchard home.

The following year, fire deaths in the state dropped to four, which is the lowest number of fatalities until this year.

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