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On this blog, you’ve read quite a bit about people dying from motor vehicle collisions, as well as a few tragic deaths of people falling from casino high rises or drowning in swimming pools. But we don’t talk much about the victims who perish due to fires, since the majority of them are started by someone in the building which gets burned.

That’s not the case with the huge fire that ravaged 3,100 acres in Reno earlier this year. The blaze erupted on January 19 and burned over five square miles, destroying an estimated $4.5 million in property before it was contained and extinguished by firefighters. In addition to the physical damage, a 93-year old woman died in her studio apartment from smoke inhalation as a direct result of the blaze.

This week, investigators figured out the cause of that horrific fire. The origin can be traced to a 58-year old man who improperly disposed of ashes that were in his fireplace. News reports indicate that the man deposited the ashes in a trailer outside his home about four days before the fire started. He said that he didn’t think the ashes would catch fire because they were cool to the touch, and that he had planned on getting rid of them at a later date.

Based on this information, the surviving relatives of the elderly woman may have grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit against the 58-year old man. Such a lawsuit could potentially reimburse the family for burial expenses and award them damages for loss of companionship and/or pain and suffering.