Cigarette Blamed For Fire That Injures Two

Damage estimates are $250,000.

Sunday, Dec 4, 2011  |  Updated 8:19 PM PDT
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Cigarette Blamed For Fire That Injures Two

NBC Local Media

Firefighters had their hands full Sunday morning in San Francisco.

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A fire in a 6-story apartment building that injured one resident and a firefighter in San Francisco this morning was probably caused by a cigarette dropped into a lightwell, fire officials said.

The fire at 347 Eddy Street, first reported around 8 a.m., began in a lightwell when some collected debris caught fire, said Assistant Fire Chief Bob Postel.

The fire traveled up the lightwell rapidly, eventually spreading to all six floors of the building, Postel said. The flames remained largely contained to the lightwell and some surrounding void space, and did not extend into the attic or living spaces, Postel said.

However, firefighters struggled to gain access to the area and had to open up the walls in seven units to completely extinguish the flames.

"We were there about four hours," Postel said. "It was a stubborn fire with a lot of work, very labor intensive, just because of the location."

One resident was taken to the hospital for treatment of minor smoke inhalation, and one firefighter received unknown minor injuries. All residents of the building have been evacuated today because the water and power remain shut off.

Most residents will probably be able to return tomorrow, but those in the seven units that sustained the most damage will probably be displaced longer, Postel said. Investigators found smoking materials in the area where the fire started, and Postel said the likely cause was a resident dropping a lighted cigarette down the lightwell.

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