Officials: Careless smoking likely cause of fatal fire
November 29, 2012

JACKSON TWP — Fire investigators suspect careless smoking caused the Wednesday night blaze that killed a 53-year-old man in his apartment and forced more than a dozen other tenants to flee.

Donald A. “Donny” Sutchmay have died when a smoldering cigarette ignited and quickly engulfed his apartment in the 500 block of German Street.

“He was a heavy smoker,” Township Police Chief Terry Seilhamer said Thursday, “and the preliminary investigation found that smoking was likely involved in this fire.”

Harmony firefighters responding to the fire about 8:30 p.m. later found Sutch unconscious on the floor of his bedroom in the 10-unit apartment building his father owns.

Sutch served for years as the maintenance man at the building that once was a nursing home, authorities said.

Harmony EMS paramedics were unable to revive him, and an autopsy determined he died of smoke inhalation, said Butler County Deputy Coroner Larry Barr.

Up to 15 other tenants had to flee the smoke that spread throughout the three-story building. An unidentified resident there had to be taken to a hospital after being overcome by smoke.