1 dead in St. Paul house fire, 8 escape - KMSP-TV

1 dead in St. Paul house fire, 8 escape

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) -

One man was found dead in the basement of a St. Paul home after a fire broke out Sunday morning.

The fire began just before 8 a.m. in the Frogtown neighborhood on the 700 block of Lexington Avenue North. Nine people were in the home at the time and eight escaped safely.

Fire crews said the basement window wasn't up to code, trapping 38-year-old "Gumtoro," who was sleeping inside the small room. Investigators also found three smoke alarms were disconnected; however, none are broken.

The St. Paul Police Department announced via Twitter that the fire was caused by "careless smoking in bed." The death marks the third in the city this year that is related to fire.

On Sunday, Hua Gao spent much of her time moving plastic bins containing smoke-stained and singed salvage from the home she shares with her husband, 3 children, and 3 other family members.

Fire officials say the man, whose full name has not been released, was a friend of the family. Gao declined to tell Fox 9 News where he may have been from, but she did say her family is doing fine and most of the fire damage was contained to the basement.

Neighbor Dawn Peters told Fox 9 News the family moved into the home last summer, but residents in the area are already mobilizing to help them.

"I already received an e-mail from neighbors stating that we can collect things collectively if they need things," Peters said. "I see them trying to move things out and it's very saddening."

Gao confirmed that the REd Cross is helping her family secure temporary housing. 

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