Vancouver Fire Marshal: Fatal fire likely caused by cigarettes

By Emily Gillespie, Columbian breaking news reporter

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A fire at a Harney Heights apartment that led to the death of a 66-year-old woman was determined to be most likely caused by improperly discarded cigarettes, according to the Vancouver Fire Marshal Heidi Scarpelli.

The unintentional fire started in the living room of the apartment, 2904 E. 16th St. The unit had working smoke alarms, but they had been disabled, Scarpelli said.

The fire was reported at 1:23 a.m. Sunday, and three arriving Vancouver police officers pulled the woman, Karen Kimberling, from the apartment as fire personnel arrived.

Kimberling was alive when medics treated her at the scene, but she later died at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center in Portland.

Scarpelli said that careless smoking is a problem both in the Vancouver community and in society as a whole.

“The message to our community is: if you are smoking, please smoke outside the home,” Scarpelli said. She added that “the best way to protect yourself and your family from fire is to have a working smoke alarm.”