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Investigators: Smoking in bed might have led to fatal fire

By Times staff writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 20, 2000


ZEPHYRHILLS -- Smoking in bed may have caused a fire that killed an 80-year-old widow Tuesday, investigators said Wednesday.

Authorities confirmed the identity of Grace M. Stoller. She died Tuesday night inside her home at 4425 Autumn Palm Drive in a smoky fire that likely started about 7:15 p.m. in her bedroom, authorities reported.

While no confirmed cause of the fire will be available until a state fire marshal's report is complete, Zephyrhills Fire Chief Robert Hartwig confirmed Pasco County Sheriff's Office reports that the evidence points to cigarette smoking.

The Sheriff's Office reported that neighbors told investigators that Stoller was an avid smoker who had smoked cigarettes in bed. She had a history of medical conditions, including cancer, and was on a variety of medications, deputies reported.

Hartwig said there was no indication the fire was caused by anything electrical or suspicious.

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