Cigarette blamed for house fire

March 3, 2009 12:15:52 PM PST
A discarded cigarette is suspected as the cause of a two-alarm fire that damaged the downstairs bedroom of a two-story home on Graceland Drive and displaced seven people Monday morning, the San Rafael Fire Department said.

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Fire Capt. Spc. Bradley Mark said 83-year-old Monroe Shaw told investigators he had been smoking about 35 to 45 minutes before the fire started around 8 a.m. Investigators believe the blaze originated in a mattress in a downstairs bedroom.

Shaw tried to douse the fire with a cup of coffee and then exited the home, Mark said. Another downstairs tenant, Lisa Cavanaugh, also escaped unharmed.

Shaw's son, Keith Shaw, owns the home, Mark said. He and his wife and three children were not home when the fire was reported. The family's dog died in the fire, Mark said.

Firefighters from San Rafael, Woodacre and Ross Valley fought the blaze and had it contained it by 8:45 a.m., Mark said.

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