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Smoking caused fatal fire in Wellesley

smoking  in the house ignited fireFire investigators have determined that smoking caused a fatal fire in Wellesley on June 12. The fire on Swathmore Road killed 81-year-old Mary Ellen Thomas, and officials believe that a lit cigarette ignited her clothing or that her clothing made contact with an electric burner while she was trying to light a cigarette, State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan and Wellesley Fire Chief Richard DeLorie said in a statement today.

Smoking is the leading cause of fire death in Massachusetts even as fire prevention technologies have improved over the years, Coan said.

Other improvements, including so-called “fire safe” cigarettes that are designed to burn themselves out, have decreased these numbers lately.

“Fire standard compliant cigarettes are helping to reduce fire deaths but they are not designed to prevent every smoking-ignited fire,” Coan said.

An official cause of death has not been determined for Thomas, as toxicology tests remain pending, officials said. Investigators found no evidence of foul play in the fire.

“Every fire death is sad for the family and friends, but this fire death impacts the Greater Wellesley community hard, as so many of us know the family personally,” DeLorie said in a statement. “On behalf of the Wellesley Fire Department, the citizens of the town, and my own family, I offer our condolences to the family of Mrs. Thomas.”

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