Smoking likely played role in 2 deadly Georgia house fires, officials say

Credit: Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner's Office

Credit: Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner's Office

A weekend fire that killed a 66-year-old woman in Pickens County has been ruled accidental, according to the state fire marshal.

“Though it cannot be directly linked to starting the fire, careless smoking while in use of oxygen is likely to have played a role in the cause,” Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner John F. King said Tuesday in a news release.

About 4 a.m. Sunday, Katheryn Patrice Singer Avery was found dead in the basement of a home off Derby Lane in Jasper, according to officials.

“The 2,000-square-foot, single-story home was nearly destroyed by the blaze,” King said. “Most of the top floor had collapsed into the basement by the time extinguishment efforts began.”

Two people were able to get out of the burning home, he said. One had minor injuries and the other was unharmed, he said.

Avery’s body was taken to the GBI Crime Lab for an autopsy.

The incident was one of two fires linked to smoking that resulted in someone’s death over the past week, the state fire marshal said.

Fire crews in Spalding County extracted Melony Pass, 47, from a  burning home off 4th Avenue in Griffin on Thursday morning, King said. Pass was taken to a hospital, where she died.

“The fire originated in the front bedroom and was caused by a misuse of smoking materials near the bed,” King said. The home suffered moderate damage, and the fire was ruled accidental.

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