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Investigators believe cigarette sparked fire that killed man in Butler County

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By Margaret Harding
Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012, 11:34 a.m.

An investigation continued on Thursday into whether a cigarette sparked a fire in a Butler County apartment building that left one man dead.

Firefighters on Wednesday found Donald Sutch, 53, in his bed in the 10-unit building on German Street in Jackson, township police Chief Terry Seilhamer said. Sutch was a smoker, and Seilhamer said it appears the fire started near a couch in a corner of the living room.

Police responding to a report of a structure fire about 8:30 p.m. arrived to find heavy smoke, Seilhamer said.

Trooper Luke Nelson said investigators found multiple packs of cigarettes and lighters inside the apartment.

“It appears smoking or careless use of smoking materials is the likely cause,” Nelson said.

One resident of the building was hospitalized with smoke inhalation, and medics treated a firefighter at the scene for exhaustion, Seilhamer said.

It appears Sutch died of smoke inhalation, Seilhamer said. The state police fire marshal's office is investigating the cause of the fire, which was contained to Sutch's apartment.

Fifteen people lived in the building, the chief said. The American Red Cross is assisting one family with food, clothing and shelter, spokeswoman Dominique Buccina said.

Margaret Harding is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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