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Cigarette sparked Friday fire on Highway 3

Firefighters were called to a Castle Rock home on Highway 3 Friday night for a fire that started thanks to a lit cigarette.

One lit cigarette caused approximately $100,000 in damage when it caused a Castle Rock house fire Friday night.

Farmington firefighters were called to a house on the 22400 block of Chippendale Avenue/Highway 3 just after 8 p.m. Friday, on the report of a house fire. When they arrived at the home, firefighters found the front of the house ablaze.

The three people who lived in the house and their pets had escaped the house without harm, Farmington fire marshal John Powers said. A total of 16 Farmington firefighters responded to the call, along with five firefighters from Lakeville, who brought the neighboring community's ladder truck for assistance.

"When we got there, the whole front of the house was completely ablaze," Farmington fire chief Tim Pietsch said.

Pietsch sent the crew with Engine 1 into the driveway, and put Engine 2 on a hydrant across the street. Engine 2 was used to pump water from the hydrant to Engine 1, but Highway 3 had to be closed because passing vehicles could run over the hose or injure firefighters as they moved around the area.

One group of firefighters was sent to attack the fire from inside the house, while another group worked on the outside of the building. They were able to get the fire knocked down quickly, but the house sustained major exterior damage on the front side and roof.

Firefighters had put covers down on the resident's belongings. For the most part, the belongings were not damaged by the fire, and the residents who lived there were able to go back and collect clothing and other personal belongings on Sunday and Monday, Pietsch said.

The fire started near a flower planter on the deck, Powers said. In conversations with the occupants, Powers and Pietsch learned that one of them had smoked a cigarette not long before the fire, and had disposed of the cigarette in or near the planter.

The residents who lived in the home have been displaced because the house has significant damage, including holes in the roof and drywall that was torn away by firefighters. Powers estimates the damage at $100,000, which covers the content and structure.

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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