NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (AP) _ The number of people who’ve died in fires in Virginia is up by 40 percent this year. The Daily Press in Newport News reports that fires claimed the lives of 35 people across the state as of May 29. At that time last year, 28 people had died. The Virginia Department of Fire Programs said smoking was behind most of the fire deaths. Other causes included portable heaters, candles and electrical problems. Most of the victims were older adults. The median age of the deceased was 70 years old. Many had mobility issues. State fire marshal Brian McGraw said some deaths can be specifically tied to smoking in bed or smoking while on home oxygen. Another cause was improper disposal of cigarette butts, including throwing them into mulch.