Cigarette causes house fire; couple escapes

Woman accidentally caught bed on fire while smoking; spread to home

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A couple lost their home in a fire Wednesday morning and the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department said a cigarette was to blame.

Just before 5 a.m., firefighters were dispatched to a home on 1234 West 5th Street in reference to a fire.

When they arrived, they found that a woman accidentally caught her bedspread on fire while trying to put out a cigarette.

"My wife fell asleep with a cigarette and she thought she was putting it in an ashtray and she put it in the mattress," said Robert McPhee.

McPhee said the next thing he knew, the flames spread quickly.

"Something's burning on my leg and it hit the curtains and I tried to put it out and it got worse. It spread. I couldn't put it out so I told her to get out of the house and call 911. She couldn't find the phone. She had to go use the neighbors phone because the smoke had spread so bad. Next thing I know I was about to choke to death but I had to go get my nephew out of the house," said McPhee.

The home was destroyed. The families two eight-week-old pitbulls died in the fire.

Their third dog, was saved from the flames.

McPhee is devastated that he lost his pets, but says he feels lucky that he and his wife are safe.

"Thank God it burnt my leg. That saved me. I woke up and I felt my leg burnig and that's what woke me up and the smoke alarm went off. My house is totaled. I've got nothing," said McPhee.

The fire was ruled accidental by JFRD.

The Red Cross is assisting the couple with a place to stay for a few nights and other necessities.