Fatal Fire In Niagara Falls

July 23, 2010 Updated Jul 23, 2010 at 6:23 PM EDT

By Laura Gray

July 23, 2010 Updated Jul 23, 2010 at 6:23 PM EDT

Niagara Falls, NY (WKBW) -- Neighbors noticed flames shooting out of a window on 22nd street just after 10p.m. Thursday night. Knowing that 64 year old Susan Hurtt was inside, some neighbors broke down the door to the home.

Rebecca Zimmerman says they attempted to go upstairs, but the ceiling collapsed they were forced to wait for firefighters. Firefighters had to knock down the blaze before they could get to Hurtt, who was found in the front bedroom. She later died at the hospital.

Battalion Chief Greg Colangelo of the Niagara Falls Fire Prevention says a cigarette started the blaze. Colangelo says smokers get a false sense of comfort from so-called safe cigarettes. He says there is no such thing as a safe cigarette, and he's seen at least three fires caused by "safe" cigarettes.

Hours later, firefighters attended another fire on 22nd street. The house was not even a block away from the fatal fire. Everyone made it out of that fire safely.

Colangelo believes Hurtt could have made it out of the first fire if there were working smoke detectors in her house.

Firefighters are encouraging everyone to check their smoke detectors once a month, and change the batteries twice a year.