Fire may have been caused by cigarette

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 29, 2007

CHESAPEAKE — The fire that took the life of a 91-year-old Chesapeake man Friday afternoon started near his bed and may have been caused by a cigarette.

“The fire marshal completed his investigation and found the fire had an ignition point around the bed,” said Ed Webb, assistant fire chief of the Chesapeake-Union Township Fire Department. “The victim did make a comment to the ambulance drivers that he was smoking in bed and through the fire marshal’s investigation, he’s saying that most of the fire damage occurred in that room.”

The victim did attempt to crawl out of the apartment, Webb said, and made it as far as the sliding glass door. He was halfway out of the apartment.

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At that point two people, a truck driver and a neighbor, Dave Ward, met him at that door and helped pull him out of his apartment.

The victim, John Bright, later died in the burn unit at Cabell Huntington Hospital.

“It’s a sad thing when a 91-year-old has to lose his life through such a tragedy,” Webb said.

The fire marshal called it a “knock-down,” since only the one apartment was destroyed and the other two sustained very little damage.

“The fire was so intense that the aluminum windows melted into a puddle,” Webb said. “It was a hot one.”

Most of the firefighters work during the day and the call came in at 12:33 p.m., he said, so they were concerned that everybody was at work.

“That’s why we called in two other fire departments,” he said.

About 20 firefighters from Chesapeake-Union, Burlington-Fayette and Proctorville volunteer fire departments spent more than four hours at the scene.