Cigarette Causes Fire That Killed Dunkirk Man

February 22, 2011 Updated Feb 22, 2011 at 2:59 PM EDT

By Jaclyn Asztalos

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February 22, 2011 Updated Feb 22, 2011 at 2:59 PM EDT

Investigators said a cigarette was the cause of a fire in a home that killed a thirty-seven-year-old man in Dunkirk.

The Dunkirk Fire Chief Keith Ahlstrom said when his crew arrived on scene just after three this morning the entire top floor of the home on Columbus Avenue was engulfed in Flames.

"There were two occupants downstairs that were notified by a passerby. They got out of the house and called the fire in. The occupant upstairs who became a fatality was not able to get out of the house," Ahlstrom said.

He said it was that victim's cigarette that started the fire and took his life. The victim died of smoke inhalation and was pronounced dead on the scene.

"We probably recovered body within 17 or 18 minutes from when our call came into our headquarters. That take into account our arrival on scene and ladder the second floor," Ahlstrom said.

The chief said having someone die in a fire is hard on the entire department.

"It's a little bit harder on all the fire fighters to have a fatality whether we know the victim or not. Our job is to protect people and property. It's a difficult situation and there will be a lot of talk in the fire hall about why things like this happen and how we can make the public more aware," Ahlstrom said.

Ahlstrom said this is the second fire in two weeks that was caused by careless smoking. Last year, a cigarette fire caused another fatality in Dunkirk.

The fire investigation is complete. Officials said they will release the name of the victim as soon as his family is notified.