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Fire department: Cigarette ignited deadly Grand Forks house fire

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Captain Bruce Weymier of the Grand Forks fire department and other firefighters investigate a house fire at 443 Campbell Drive in Grand Forks. One person died and another was taken to Altru Hospital for treatment in the early morning blaze. Herald photo by Eric Hylden.2 / 2

A Grand Forks Fire Department investigation has determined that a cigarette started a house fire that killed a woman.

Teresa Numedahl fell asleep in bed with a cigarette which ignited her mattress early Feb. 25, Fire Marshal Bruce Hoeger said Monday.

Numedahl, 55, died in the fire at 443 Campbell Drive in Grand Forks. The fire also killed three dogs and caused an estimated $125,000 in damage, the department reported.

Numedahl's husband, Jim, was sleeping in another bedroom when the fire started, Hoeger said. "Sometimes she would get up and go to the other room because he snores too loudly," Hoeger said.

Jim Numedahl, 58, escaped the blaze and sought help from neighbors who told the Herald they were unable to get inside the burning home to rescue his wife.

Firefighters searched the one-story house and found Numedahl's body. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Jim Numedahl was taken to Altru Hospital for unspecified injuries. He was listed in satisfactory condition later that day.

Firefighters found a smoke alarm in the kitchen-dining room area of the home, but they did not hear any alarms sounding when they arrived, Hoeger said. "It's kind of hard to say if it was operable. It did have the battery in it," he said of the smoke detector.

Jim Numedahl told investigators he did not hear a smoke detector going off before he got out of his home, Hoeger said.

On Monday, the fire department reminded residents and business owners to make certain their smoke detectors work.

"We're changing our clocks here coming up -- time to change your batteries," Hoeger said.

Hoeger suggests residents have a smoke detector on each level of their homes and additional ones in each bedroom.