Investigators: Apt. Fire Caused by Cigarette Not Put Out Properly


POSTED: Monday, January 23, 2012 - 1:02am

UPDATED: Monday, January 23, 2012 - 9:06am

UPDATE: Fire investigators have ruled a West El Paso apartment fire as accidental.

According to George DeLaTorre, Spokesman for the El Paso Fire Department, a tenant was smoking outside on the balcony of a second-story apartment and did not put out the cigarette correctly. The cigarette fell onto empty cardboard boxes nearby and caught fire. The flames spread to surrounding units and resulted in heavy fire and smoke damage to three other units, and smoke damage to 4 others. The unit where the fire originated is a total loss.

A family of three inside the apartment where the fire started escaped safely. An 82-year-old man was taken to the hospital for treatment of smoke inhalation.

Firefighters evacuated a total of 12 people.  Raynerqua Edwards was inside her apartment when she heard the commotion.

"All I know is that me and a couple of friends were inside hanging out and we heard this guy yell, 'Fire!'  I opened the door and we just saw all the smoke and we just ran out. The guy went back and got this old man out," she said. 

The Red Cross is helping three families with temporary shelter.

Damages are estimated at $500,000.

EL PASO - A massive fire ripped through an apartment building in West El Paso Sunday night leaving twelve people homeless.

El Paso Firefighters responded to the Chimney Apartments at 200 North Festival at approximately 9:30 p.m. They said a building was fully engulfed in flames when they arrived.

An elderly man was treated for smoke inhalation. No other injuries were reported.

The estimated damage of the fire is approximately $300,000 and investigators said the cause hasn't been determined.


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