Roanoke County fire investigators say the man killed in today’s apartment fire probably fell asleep while smoking, with the cigarette eventually setting combustible material on fire. They identify the victim as 83-year-old Fred Shiplett. A woman rescued from the same unit at “The Pines” apartment complex is expected to survive. Her name has not been released. More from WFIR’s Evan Jones.[audio:http://wfirnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/09-19-FireWrap2-WEB.mp3|titles=09-19 FireWrap2-WEB]
Here is the full Roanoke County Fire and Rescue news release:
(ROANOKE COUNTY) September 19, 2011, 3:45 p.m.—Investigators have determined that an apartment fire that claimed the life of one man and sent a woman to a local hospital early this morning was caused by a misuse of smoking materials.
Fred A. Shiplett, 83, was in his living room chair when investigators say, he likely fell asleep while smoking and dropped his cigarette onto a combustible material, sparking the fire. Investigators believe the fire smoldered for some time before residents in the apartment above smelled smoke and called 9-1-1.
When firefighters arrived, they searched the apartment and found the elderly couple. Once brought outside, it was determined the man was already deceased. The woman was treated by paramedics and transported to a local hospital for potentially life threatening injuries, but is now expected to survive.
The fire was contained to the living room portion of the apartment, however the rest of the apartment received heat, smoke and water damage. The estimated damage to the fire apartment is $25,000 for the structure and contents. Other apartments may have sustained minimal smoke damage. The gas has been temporarily cut off to three apartments including the fire apartment leaving residents with electricity. No residents were displaced since electricity was cut off only to the fire apartment.