A fire at an apartment near Minnesota State University – Mankato late Thursday night wasn’t serious, but the Mankato Department of Public Safety – Fire said it does highlight the need for cautious cooking.

Deputy Director Jeff Bengtson said the number one overall cause of fires is cooking, and in this instance, “The cause of the fire was a box, a combustible cardboard box, was stored in the oven and one of the occupants wasn’t aware that it was in the oven and turned the oven on to cook and started the box on fire.”

Earlier this week the Minnesota Department of Public Safety released a preliminary report that shows 63 people in the state died in fires, which is an increase of 47 percent over the year before and the highest since 2002.

Bengtson said when it comes to fire deaths, careless smoking is the top cause and he suggests people refrain from smoking indoors. “If they’re outside they are less likely to cause a fire inside the house,” he explained, but added, “But we do have fires involving butt cans and cigarette disposals containers so ensure that any smoking materials are completely extinguished, either in sand or water, before turning your backs on them.”

Fire death numbers become final once Minnesota hospital officials report their information to the Minnesota Department of Public Health in the spring. Seven people have died in fires so far in 2018. There were no fatal fires in Mankato last year.