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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Blawnox High-Rise Fire Caused By Smoking

Investigators say a fire in Blawnox that forced dozens of elderly residents of a high-rise to evacuate was caused by smoking.

Officials say a resident fell asleep while smoking a cigarette in a fifth-floor apartment.

Two years ago, a fire started in the same building because a tenant threw a cigarette in a wastebasket.

The Allegheny County Housing Authority is considering changing its policy.

"What we're going to do is send a survey out to the residents of the Allegheny County Housing Authority, as well as - we have a resident advisory board as well as meet with them," Frank Aggazio, executive director of the housing authority, said. "And have a serious discussion with our board of directors."

Aggazio says he spoke with evacuated residents at Hoboken Presbyterian Church.

"And I talked to smokers and non-smokers alike and it was very unanimous that they wish that we could ban smoking in the units," he said.

The building has 90 units 64 units are ready for residents to live in again. The fire caused more than $1 million in damages.

It could take up to three weeks before the fifth floor is restored.

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