Thursday, April 19, 2018
Public safety

Fatal fire that killed Lealman woman caused by cigarette

LEALMAN — Authorities said a fatal fire Tuesday afternoon at the Paradise Shores apartments was caused by a cigarette.

Phyllis J. Wells was found dead inside unit No. 12 at the complex, 5356 81st St. N. shortly after a fire broke out at about 2 p.m. Several bystanders tried to reach the 65-year-old woman, but flames and smoke drove them back.

Wells lived at the home with her elderly mother, who escaped without injury.

Fire officials said Wells had been sick over the past couple weeks with flu-life symptoms. On Wednesday, they confirmed Wells also was a smoker.

Sgt. Dave Disano of the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office said investigators believe the fire began in a bedroom — the same area where Wells' body was found.

The incident, which is still under investigation, is not considered suspicious, Disano said.

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