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Fatal flat fire in Colchester could have been caused by cigarette falling onto sofa as man slept

PUBLISHED: 13:21 09 November 2017 | UPDATED: 14:47 09 November 2017

Fatal flat fire in Colchester. Stock image. Picture: PHIL MORLEY

Fatal flat fire in Colchester. Stock image. Picture: PHIL MORLEY

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A man died in a flat fire in Colchester after a cigarette fell onto a sofa while he slept, firefighters believe.

The “tragic accident” took place at a ground-floor flat in Crowhurst Court last night. The man, aged in his 50s, has not been named.

A concerned neighbour first called the ambulance service shortly before 8pm. When firefighters arrived a short time later, the fire had largely burnt itself out, a fire brigade spokesman said.

Fire investigator Lee Lucas said: “Following a joint fire and police investigation we believe this incident to be accidental, caused when the man fell asleep on the sofa with a lit cigarette which fell onto the sofa, setting it alight.

“This tragic accident serves to highlight the dangers of smoking in the home, and the devastating consequences they can cause.

“Cigarettes burn at 700 degrees Celsius and can easily set alight combustible items, such as sofas, beds, and clothing.

“We want to urge all smokers to follow our safety advice and stay safe in their home and ensure they have a working alarm.”

Firefighters used thermal imaging cameras to ensure there were no remaining hotspots before starting an investigation.

An Essex Police spokesman said: “We received reports from colleagues at the ambulance service shortly before 8pm yesterday, November 8, that a man in his 50s had been found deceased at a property in Crowhurst Court, Colchester.

“Essex County Fire and Rescue Service attended and confirmed that there had been a fire at the property, which was not suspicious.

“A file will be prepared for the coroner.”

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