St. Paul, MN (KROC-AM News) - The number of fire deaths in Minnesota last year was the second lowest on record since the state began tracking the statistic in 1970.

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety says a preliminary count shows 36 people perished in fires during 2016. That’s down 37-percent when compared to 2015 and is only one higher than the previous record low set in 2009.

Minnesota’s highest fire deathtoll in a single year occurred in 1976 when 134 people died as a result of fires.

The leading cause of fires in Minnesota remains careless smoking, followed by combustibles being left too close to heat and/or flames, which was tied with arson or suicide as the second leading cause .

A final report on Minnesota fire deaths will be released in the spring.

Fire deaths the past decade
2016: 36 (preliminary)
2015: 57
2014: 44
2013: 44
2012: 50
2011: 56
2010: 39
2009: 35
2008: 52
2007: 40