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Fire That Killed St. Thomas Student Caused By Cigarettes

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St. Paul Fire Marshal Steve Zaccard said Michael Larson, 20, died in a fire at his Selby Avenue home the morning of Dec. 11, 2010. He was a student at the University of St. Thomas. (credit: Star Tribune)

St. Paul Fire Marshal Steve Zaccard said Michael Larson, 20, died in a fire at his Selby Avenue home the morning of Dec. 11, 2010. He was a student at the University of St. Thomas. (credit: Star Tribune)

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ST. PAUL (WCCO) — A house fire that killed a University of St. Thomas student and injured three was caused by “carelessly discarded smoking materials,” according to fire officials.

The fire, which began around 3:15 a.m. Dec. 11 at 1795 Selby Ave., killed 20-year-old Michael Larson, who was sleeping on a couch on the main floor.

St. Paul Fire Marshal Steve Zaccard said there were two containers on the front porch to put cigarette butts in and one was plastic. That container started on fire and spread throughout the home.

Zaccard said it took them a while to determine the exact cause of the fire because of other possibilities they needed to rule out.

Three people at the home awoke to smoke detectors and jumped out of second-story windows. They were treated for smoke inhalation and taken to Regions Hospital, mostly for injuries from the fall.

Firefighters tried to rescue Larson, but said he had already died.

All four victims were students at St. Thomas.

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