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Date: 10/31/2008 12:35 PM

WEST FARGO, N.D. (AP) _ Authorities say a cigar appears to have started a chair on fire, damaging a West Fargo apartment and injuring the tenant.

Fire Chief Roy Schatschneider says 61-year-old Leslie Moore had been sitting in the chair in the living room smoking a cigar before the fire on Wednesday.

Moore told authorities he was in the bedroom when a smoke alarm went off. Authorities say Moore suffered minor injuries when he had to walk by the burning chair to get out of the apartment.

Schatschneider says the apartment sustained heavy smoke damage and will likely have to be stripped.

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Information from: The Forum, http://www.in-forum.com

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.

Date: 10/22/2008 1:43 PM

By JEFF KAROUB
Associated Press Writer

HIGHLAND PARK, Mich. (AP) _ Fire killed a woman and three children in one home early Wednesday and spread to four other houses, three of them vacant, fire and city officials said.

Space heaters used to warm the victims’ home may have caused the blaze, fire department and city officials said. The temperature at the time in nearby Detroit was 37 degrees.

The officials confirmed the deaths, but would not identify the victims. Family members said they were a 51-year-old woman and three children — two boys, 10 and 5, and a girl, 8. They were among eight people living in the house.

Willie Dale, who said he was the adult victim’s son, said he escaped from the house with his girlfriend, their 10-month-old daughter and the mother of the three children who died.

“I woke up to my Mom saying ‘It’s a fire. Get out,'” said Dale, 29. “All the smoke came in, and I tumbled down the stairs.”

Those who escaped with Dale were taken to a hospital but details on their conditions were not immediately made available.

“It’s very, very sad,” said Highland Park’s emergency financial manager Arthur Blackwell. The cash-strapped 2.9-square-mile city just outside Detroit has been run by a state-appointed emergency financial manager for years.

The fire spread along the neighborhood, burning three homes to the ground — including the one occupied by the victims — and gutting two others. The neighborhood, one block from a busy urban freeway, consists of older, two-story homes, many of them vacant, including three of those struck by Wednesday’s fire.

Highland Park once held Chrysler headquarters and was the site of a Ford Motor Co. Model T factory that employed 100,000 workers.

However, those auto industry facilities are long gone along with the tax revenue they provided.

“It’s one of the poorest communities in the state,” Blackwell said. “They’re suffering here, disproportionately more.”

Elsewhere, an early morning blaze killed four people in a mobile home at Nacogdoches, Texas.

Nacogdoches Fire Chief Keith Kiplinger said the bodies of two women and two children, ages 3 and 4, were found in a back bedroom.

Firefighters said flames were “high in the trees” over the house when they arrived.

Nacogdoches is about 150 miles southeast of Dallas.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.

Editor’s Comment: Something that surprised us when we first started focusing on carbon monoxide poisoning is that the largest number of CO poisoned people in the U.S. are victims of fire.
We have been working on fire related injuries for many years, going back to our advocacy on:
www.burn-help.com

Date: 10/14/2008 4:54 PM

By THOMAS J. SHEERAN
Associated Press Writer

CLEVELAND (AP) _ A man indicted this month on charges of setting a fire that killed a woman and eight children at a birthday sleepover said he would never do anything to harm a child, and that he felt the same pain as relatives of the victims.

“I would never do anything like that,” Antun Lewis, 24, told The Associated Press in a short handwritten note mailed from prison and received Tuesday.

The May 21, 2005, fire killed Medeia Carter, 33, along with eight youngsters, including four of her five children. The deaths horrified Cleveland residents and drew 4,000 people to the victims’ funeral at a convention center.

“The people that know me know that I am crazy about kids and know that I am against anybody that is out to do any harm to a child,” Lewis said in a neatly printed, 12-line response to the AP’s mailed questions. It was signed with his printed name.

Lewis was indicted by a federal grand jury Oct. 1 and charged with arson. He is to be arraigned Oct. 30 and could face the death penalty if convicted.

Authorities said Lewis apparently knew Carter’s mother but haven’t detailed the relationship. Lewis described himself as a “good friend” of the family.

“All the kids that was in that house know me very will and everytime they saw me I had something for them I didn’t care how many it was I made sure I had something for all of them, so when that happend to them it hurt me just as much as it hurt they familys, because they was like family to me to,” Lewis wrote.

U.S. Attorney Bill Edwards said Tuesday he would not comment on Lewis’ letter. Court records don’t list a defense attorney representing Lewis, who is locked up at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville on unrelated drug and weapon charges.

Carter and the children were found on the second floor of the 2 1/2-story, 99-year-old home located in a poor neighborhood about 3 miles from downtown. All died of smoke inhalation.

Carter rented the house with a subsidy from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, a connection that gave federal prosecutors jurisdiction in the case.

The investigation had been slowed by differences between county and federal prosecutors, but both agencies agreed to go ahead with a federal trial, with a county assistant prosecutor helping.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.

Date: 10/1/2008 6:10 PM

By THOMAS J. SHEERAN

CLEVELAND (AP) _ A man already in prison on drug and weapons charges was indicted Wednesday in a 2005 house fire that killed nine people, including eight children at a birthday sleepover.

Antun Lewis, 24, of Cleveland, was charged with arson in the house fire in May 2005 in a poor neighborhood that outraged residents across Cleveland. Lewis could face the death penalty if convicted.

Friends and relatives of the victims had expressed frustration with the slow investigation by federal, county and city authorities.

“This case has haunted this community for 3½ years,” said Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Mason. “It’s been a very complex and difficult case.”

The indictment said Lewis committed the offense “after substantial planning and premeditation to cause the death of a person.”

A phone message seeking comment from attorney William Guarnieri, who represented Lewis in his 2005 drug case, was not immediately returned.

Authorities previously said gasoline was used to start the fire. It blackened the interior, popped out windows and created a flaming nighttime silhouette that led to nonstop calls to 911 from neighbors.

A heart-wrenching funeral, with mourners slumping in grief over white caskets, drew 4,000 people to a convention center.

Deputy Police Chief Ed Tomba said the mother of one of the victims, Medeia Carter, apparently knew Lewis.

Carter, 33, died in the fire along with four of her five children. She rented the federally subsidized house, which gave federal prosecutors jurisdiction, said U.S. Attorney Bill Edwards.

Carter and the eight children were found on the second floor of the 2½-story, 99-year-old home, about 3 miles from downtown. All died of smoke inhalation.

Lewis has been in state prison since June 2005 on unrelated drug and weapons charges.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.