Lighted cigarette blamed in fatal Sykesville fire

January 13, 2004|By Athima Chansanchai | Athima Chansanchai,SUN STAFF

A Sykesville man died from smoke inhalation Sunday after he fell asleep on his living room couch with a lighted cigarette, fire officials said yesterday.

Richard Duval Goldsborough III, 59, tried to put out the fire burning on his couch with a fire extinguisher but was overcome by smoke, said Allen Gosnell, deputy chief state fire marshal.

He said the state medical examiner determined the cause of death was asphyxiation.

"The evidence we have makes us believe he was smoking and fell asleep on the couch," Gosnell said. "Cigarettes and smoking materials are major causes of fire, but we haven't seen a lot lately."

Gosnell speculated that Goldsborough woke up in his home at the 1000 block of Larch Lane about 3 a.m. Sunday to find his couch on fire. Authorities said a mostly spent fire extinguisher, which was found on the floor, was evidence of Goldsborough's struggle.

"He woke up and tried to fight it, but by then the fire had a pretty good hold," Gosnell said. "We suggest folks be very careful using portable fire extinguishers, which have their place with small fires. But if there's a question, they should always call the fire department. He should've just left."

Fire officials said a lack of fuel and oxygen helped confine the blaze to the first-floor living room, although that floor and the one above it sustained smoke damage.

Gosnell said the home was cool by the time authorities arrived, which indicated that the fire burned itself out hours before.

Goldsborough was discovered by his girlfriend, who was worried when he did not answer the phone, about 12:40 p.m., authorities said. Gosnell said Goldsborough lived alone.

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