Four Die in D.C. Area Weekend House Fires Caused by Smoking Materials

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Smoking led to two separate suburban house fires that killed four people, including three family members, fire officials said Sunday.

A woman, her son and great grandson died in a blaze around midnight in Fairmount Heights, Md. About three hours earlier, a man died in a bedroom fire despite the heroic efforts of a passing pizza delivery man in Vienna, Va.

Intense heat and thick smoke prevented police officers from entering the Fairmount Heights house, located in the 5400 block of Addison Road, said Capt. Chauncey Bowers, a spokesman for the Prince George's County Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department.

Firefighters pulled Margaret Bobo, 91, her 49-year-old son Morris Jackson and nine-year-old great grandson from the home. Two were taken to hospitals and died. A third victim died at the scene. The child's father, who is Bobo's other son, escaped the home unharmed, Bowers said.

A cigarette ignited a piece of living room furniture and flames quickly spread, Bowers said. Firefighters discovered there was a smoke alarm in the home, but it had no batteries.

So far this year, 13 people have died in residential fires in the county compared to six last year.

``When you look at what's causing these fires, it's all preventable stuff. It's smoking. It's cooking. It's space heaters. It's unattended candles,'' Bowers said.

Firefighters went door-to-door in the neighborhood Sunday afternoon dispensing fire safety tips. They plan to do the same Monday, and encouraged anyone in the county, who wants a free smoke detector to call the department.

Smoking in bed led to the death of 35-year-old Glenn Donsanto in an upstairs room, said Renee Stilwell, spokeswoman for the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department.

A pizza delivery man saw the house on fire before 7 p.m. Saturday on Batten Hollow Road and ran inside. Smoke drove him back. He alerted a neighbor, went back inside the burning home and managed to save a cat, according to Stilwell.

``He really did a heroic thing,'' she said.

The unidentified delivery man was taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation.