Investigators: Smoldering cigarettes may have led to deadly Christmas Eve house fire

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CITRUS HEIGHTS, Calif. (KTXL) – A man has been found dead after fire officials put out a house fire Tuesday night, according to the Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District.

Officials said crews responded to reports of a fire around 11:45 p.m. on Christmas Eve at a house on Brookhaven Way near Hilltree Avenue.

Firefighters were able to put out the fire within 15 minutes but one man was found dead inside, according to officials.

Metro Fire's arson investigator said the fire began in the same room where the victim was found. Early reports show the fire to be accidental with evidence that it might have been caused by smoldering cigarettes.

“The investigation shows that most likely the cause of the fire was smoking," Metro Fire spokesman Chris Vestal said. “If you are going to smoke inside, number one -- we prefer that you don’t -- but again, place those cigarette butts into some sort of noncombustible container that won’t allow fire spread."

Neighbors told FOX40 they were shocked this happened right before Christmas.

“Came outside to see what was happening and sure enough there were lines of trucks, police, sheriffs, and ambulance, and I did see that they had broken in through the roof of the house to put out the fire,” said neighbor Terri Holub.

Investigators said three undamaged smoke alarms were discovered in the house but were not working.

The victim’s identity has not yet been released.

“It’s sad that, you know, somebody’s life is lost," Holub said.

Fire officials said they wanted to remind the community of the importance of maintaining home smoke alarms.

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