Smoking caused deadly fire at living facility

Posted at 8:55 AM, Jan 24, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-25 11:12:13-05

One person died and three others suffered smoke inhalation in a two-alarm fire at an independent living facility in Lakeland early Sunday, authorities said.

Lakeland Fire Department received an automatic fire alarm at about 4:34 a.m. Sunday from Bella Vista Manor and Villas, a five-story facility located at 810 E. Bella Vista St.

Rescue crews and Lakeland police officers helped to evacuate the 48-individual room complex.

They body of 59-year-old John Connelly was found on the fourth floor during the search.  

Investigators from Lakeland Fire ruled the fire originated in Connelly's unit from smoking.

Three people were taken to an area hospital for treatment of smoke inhalation.

41 residents evacuated from the building are being sheltered in an adjacent building for now, said authorities.

According to Lakeland Fire, Bella Vista was constructed in 1971, prior to Florida's Fire Code which requires multi-family dwellings to have fire sprinklers.