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TVF and R announces cause of February's Summerfield fire

Smoldering cigarette left in guest bedroom started the fatal fire
by: Submitted photo The fire in this Summerfield home caused about $105,000 worth of damage and killed the owner of the home.

A fire that killed a 70-year-old Summerfield woman in February started because of an improperly disposed cigarette, according to fire investigators.

Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue firefighters found the body of Jo-Anne Greenwood on Feb. 20 after they put out a fire that consumed her home located at 15225 S.W. 94th Ave. in Summerfield.

Investigators determined that the fire started in the woman's spare bedroom, where Greenwood frequently smoked and disposed of her cigarette butts.

"Our hearts go out to this woman's family," says TVF and R spokesman Brian Barker. 'We've seen a number of fires caused by cigarettes recently, and they're all preventable. People don't realize that the only safe way to extinguish and discard your cigarettes is in an ashtray or appropriate metal container with a lid."

Fire crews from King City, Tualatin and Tigard were called to the home in the 55-plus community around 3 a.m. after a neighbor reported flames and smoke pouring out of the nearby home.

Neighbor Teri Smits told fire crews that she heard the fire and looked from the window of her mother's duplex to see flames leaping from Greenwood's home.

Arriving firefighters said they saw the glow of flames and smoke in the distance as they approached the neighborhood. The 1,332-square-foot home was constructed in 1979 on a cul de sac near Southwest Lakeside Drive.

Low-hanging electrical lines complicated putting out the fire, but additional crews helped control the blaze within seven minutes, according to TVF and R spokesman Walt Peck.

Greenwood's home was in the middle of three connected townhomes, but firefighters stopped the flames from spreading to the attached homes.

As crews battled the blaze outside, another crew entered the home and searched through the smoke for possible victims. They found Greenwood on the floor and rushed her outside. Paramedics determined that she had died in the home.

Smoke inhalation was a factor in her death, and she also was burned, Peck said.

"More often than not, it's the smoke that kills people in fires," he said.

According to Peck, the home was equipped with smoke alarms, but it was unclear whether or not they were working at the tine of the fire.

"Truth be told, fires don't happen often, but when (they do), it can be tragic," he added. "It's important to make sure you have a working smoke alarm."

No one else was injured in the fire, and TVF and R officials said that Greenwood lived alone.

Damage to the home was estimated to be about $105,000.