CHICAGO (WBBM) — The State Fire Marshal is urging Illinois residents to test smoke alarms and prepare a family emergency escape plan.

This after an unusually high number of fatal fires.

WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports.

84 people died in fires in Illinois last year and 131 people were injured.

Last month 21 people died and 21 were hurt.

State Fire Marshal Matt Perez says the major causes of fatalities are heating issues and careless use of smoking materials.

Ron Leffler was a firefighter for 30 years and now responds to fire scenes with the Chicago Red Cross.

“I’ve seen everybody from catching beds on fire that they’re sleeping in because the placed the space heater too close,” says Leffler. “To plugging in space heaters to into extension cords. These extension cords are not ready for the average draw of these heaters.”

The Illinois State Fire Marshal is suggesting that people check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors at least twice a year.

He also says you should have two ways to escape a home in case of an emergency.

And never use an oven for heating.