Sunday, December 30, 2012

3 Found Dead in San Jose Apartment Blaze

Perishing in a fire is an increasingly uncommon way to die for Americans. Most who are killed in fires die from smoke inhalation.

Despite its relative infrequency, about 3,800 Americans die in fires every year. That is just over 10.4 per day. Suicide, by comparison, is nearly 10 times more often a cause of death.

Sadly, the AP is reporting that three residents of a San Jose apartment building died as a result of a fire last night.

San Jose fire investigators are looking through the rubble of an apartment as they try to determine what sparked a fire that killed three people and sent three others to a hospital late Saturday.

San Jose Fire Department Capt. Mary Gutierrez says when firefighters reached the scene shortly after 11 p.m. Saturday they found some people trapped in the burning apartment on the second floor of the building. After the fire was put out, firefighters found the bodies of a man, a woman and a child.

Due mostly to better construction standards, smoke detectors and automated sprinkler systems, fire deaths in the U.S. have fallen dramatically in the last 100 years. Even in the last 30 years they have continued to fall precipitously. Here is what FEMA reports:

From 1979 to 2007, the fire death rate in the United States declined by 66 percent. Today, the United States still has one of the higher fire death rates in the industrialized world. However, its standing has greatly improved.

In 1979, the U.S. suffered 34.4 fire deaths per million people per year. That fell to 12.4 in 2007. Switzerland stands out for being the safest country when it comes to deaths by fire. In 2007, its rate per million people was just 2.0.

In 2009, 2,437,163 Americans died. That is a total death rate of 793.8 deaths per 100,000 population. Here is how death by fire (assuming the same rate we had in 2007) compares to some other causes:

•Heart disease: 599,413
•Cancer: 567,628
•Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 137,353
•Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 128,842
•Accidents (unintentional injuries): 118,021
•Alzheimer's disease: 79,003
•Diabetes: 68,705
•Influenza and Pneumonia: 53,692
•Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis: 48,935
•Intentional self-harm (suicide): 36,909
•Fire: 3,807

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