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Smoking in bed caused fatal Emmett fire

An Emmett man lost his life last week due to smoking materials that ignited his bed, the Idaho state fire marshal said Wednesday.

Eric Brockbank, 54, was killed in the May 10 house fire. A graveside service will be held at 2 p.m. May 16 at the Bramwell Cemetery near Emmett, according to his obituary. Potter Funeral Chapel is handling arrangements.

State Fire Marshal Knute Sandahl said in a press release Wednesday that investigators from his office and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives determined that "careless use of smoking materials" caused the fire.

"Evidence indicates that Mr. Brockbank fell asleep in bed while smoking, only to be awakened by the fire. Because of his diminished mobility, Mr. Brockbank was unable to escape the fire and was killed," the release says.

Sandahl said smoking is the third major cause of house fires in the United States. He encouraged Idahoans to put smoke alarms in all bedrooms, hallways and living areas of homes.

He encouraged smokers to take the following steps to ensure safety:

  • Smoke outside. Many items in your home can catch fire if they touch something hot like a cigarette or ashes.

  • Put your cigarette out in an ashtray or metal bucket with sand.

  • Use ashtrays with wide bases so they won't tip over and start a fire.

  • Put cigarettes out all the way, every time.

  • Don’t walk away from lit cigarettes and other smoking materials.

  • Put water on ashes and butts to make sure they are fully extinguished before putting them in the trash.

  • Never smoke around medical oxygen. Medical oxygen can explode if a flame or spark is nearby, even if the oxygen is turned off it can still catch fire.

  • Never smoke in bed. Mattresses and bedding can catch fire easily and it is possible to fall asleep with a lit cigarette.

Katy Moeller: 208-377-6413