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‘Careless Smoking in Bed’ Cause of Fatal St. Paul House Fire

Updated: 11/25/2013 7:25 AM
Created: 11/24/2013 8:57 AM KSTP.com
By: Leslie Dyste

A 38-year-old man is dead after a fire broke out in the basement of a home Sunday morning.

According to the St. Paul Fire Department, the cause of the fire was "careless smoking in bed." The man died from smoke inhalation, according to the medical examiner.

The medical examiner has identified the man as "Gumtoro."

The fire occurred at a home on the 700 block of North Lexington Avenue just before 8 a.m.

The man was sleeping in the basement at the time of the fire and was unable to escape. According to Steve Zaccard with St. Paul Fire Department, the man did not have adequate windows to escape from the basement.

According to St. Paul Police, the basement egress window is not up to code and wasn't of sufficient size to be used as a bedroom in a basement.

According to St. Paul Fire Chief Tim Butler, it's easier for people to escape out of an egress window, and it's easier for firefighters to enter if they have to go down into the bedroom through the window.

One by one, the family of eight who lives in the home walked out the front door. They came out in pajamas and flip flops, which shows just how narrowly the three-generation family escaped the deadly fire.

They carried anything salvageable in backpacks and trash bags, wheeling out whatever helps them restart their lives. The American Red Cross is helping the family.

Three smoke alarms were disconnected, according to the St. Paul Fire Department. 

One neighbor told KSTP he's learned a valuable lesson in fire safety. "My son wants to sleep down in the basement. No way. He's not going to do that. We need an egress window down there," John Holleran said.

This fire was one of at least four fires reported over the weekend in the Twin Cities.

Click here for information on egress windows from the city of St. Paul.


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