Fire victim had problem with cigarette disposal - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Fire victim had problem with cigarette disposal

Morrisville, Vermont - September 19, 2011

Thirty people are packing up, left without homes after a fire scorched their apartment building early Monday, killing a disabled-tenant, Heather Manley.

Former fire-fighter Jonathan Nielsen risked his own life in order to try and rescue the 48-year-old. "I weren't thinking of myself, just wanted to get her out," Nielsen said. "When I got the door open she was lying there, flames were rolling over, got down on my hands and knees and crawled under flames and smoke, grabbed a hold of her and dragged her out."

Nielsen says he tried CPR, but was too late. The father of five left the hospital against doctors orders this afternoon and is on multiple prescription drugs for pain from severe burns.

Teresa Nielsen is Jonathan's mother and the building's manager. She says Manley accidentally set fire to her apartment with a lit cigarette a little more than a month ago. That fire was quickly contained, but Nielsen says she told the building owner and Manley's case-worker that she was worried it would happen again. "I said somebody's going to die, somebody's going to get hurt," she said. "If they would've done something back then, we all wouldn't be in this predicament. My son wouldn't be in a burn unit, and Heather wouldn't be in a morgue."

Police describe the previous fire as a medical call and say patient privacy laws prevent them from disclosing more information. Investigators say Monday's fire doesn't appear suspicious. They don't expect to determine an official cause until mid-week.

But tenants say they're convinced history repeated itself.

Kyle Midura - WCAX News

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