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7:04 PM Wed, July 18th

Prescott duplex fire traced to unattended cigarette

PRESCOTT - A duplex fire at about 2:30 a.m. Monday, March 9, was caused by a lit cigarette that caught a sofa on fire when the smoker fell asleep, a Prescott Fire spokesman said.

Fire crews responded to the house in the 700 block of West Gurley Street after a 911 caller reported smoke and flames coming from the duplex, Division Chief Don Devendorf said.

Firefighters found heavy smoke coming from a window, and went inside, which caused the fire to flare up briefly, Devendorf said.

The occupant and his dog were already outside, but were suffering from smoke inhalation, he said. The resident of the other half of the house escaped unhurt.

The resident whose residence burned told officials that he had been smoking and fell asleep, Devendorf said, and woke up when the smoke alarm sounded. "The occupant was using oxygen, and at least the portable tank next to the sofa, and possibly the oxygen generator, were releasing additional oxygen" into the room, fueling the fire, Devendorf said.

Firefighters were able to get the flames under control in less than 10 minutes, he said, but it still managed to do $40,000 worth of damage. The structure itself was not compromised.

Devendorf said, "Patients on oxygen should never smoke," noting that the incident could have had "a horrible outcome."