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Smoldering cigarette likely cause of fatal King City fire

Woman living alone in her home is found dead inside by firefighters arriving at the scene of blaze
by: Bob Schoenberg, Burned furniture taken out into the front yard by firefighters at 16100 S.W. Queen Victoria Place, the home of a fatal fire in King City last night.

A house fire Thursday night took the life of 77-year-old King City resident Patricia Lorentz.

Firefighters found Lorentz on the living room floor in her home after responding to a one-alarm house fire at 16100 S.W. Queen Victoria Place in King City.

Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue Tigard Engine 51, with about 15 firefighters, arrived on scene for the fire call while King City Engine 35 crews were working an unrelated life-threatening medical situation about a block away from the fire.

'When they arrived at 9:05 p.m., (firefighters) found fire consuming the living room of a single-story home. They broke windows out and forced the front door so as to battle the flames and begin searching for a reported occupant inside,' said TVF and R spokeswoman Karen Eubanks.

A neighbor of Lorentz had called 911 saying there was a fire in the woman's living room and reported there was an occupant in the home.

Eubanks said firefighters quickly found the elderly woman and brought her outside to begin life-saving procedures, but it was too late.

'Fire fighters arriving on the scene single handily knocked down the fire and brought Lorentz out and tried to resuscitate here,' she said.

Fire District officials were told that Lorentz lived by herself.

Fire investigators found the metal remains of a recliner chair, cigarette butts, and matches and lighters where the fire is believed to have originated. Finding no evidence of other potential causes, investigators believe the most probable cause to be smoker's carelessness, Eubanks said.

It is believed that a cigarette likely smoldered in or near the chair for some time before erupting into flames.

According to Eubanks, this incident marks the third fire death due to cigarettes for TVF and R since January 2005.

Previous incidents include an incident on January 2005 in West Linn and another in February 2005 in Tigard.