Marshal says smoking is to blame in fatal fire

The Philadelphia fire marshal has declared smoking as the cause of a fire that claimed the life of a Frankford auto sales lot owner and injured his roommate on Jan. 13.

Fire department officials did not specify who was smoking or how it precipitated the blaze in a commercial/residential building at 5323 Frankford Ave. shortly after 8 a.m. John Blitchford, 84, reportedly died at a city hospital that day from injuries he suffered in the fire. A roommate, described by fire investigators only as an elderly man, escaped the blaze and was treated for non-life-threatening injuries. Investigators said the flames originated in a first-floor kitchen. The two-story brick structure had one operable smoke alarm positioned in the basement “remote from the fire.”

Blitchford was the city’s third fire fatality in January.

To learn about fire safety, visit the fire department’s www.freedomfromfire.com ull;•