Smoking in bed led to blaze at area man's apartment, GFR says


Melrose Apartment complex resident Trevor Wingate, 28, center, talks to Gainesville firefighters after his apartment caught fire early Wednesday evening. The fire was caused when he fell asleep with a cigarette burning. Damages are estimated at $100,000.

MORGAN PETROSKI/Special to The Sun
Published: Thursday, December 1, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, December 1, 2005 at 12:43 a.m.
A cigarette began a blaze that gutted a Gainesville man's apartment Wednesday afternoon, according to Gainesville Fire Rescue.
Charred rubble was all that was left of the back of 28-year-old Trevor Wingate's apartment. Wingate, who lives at 1000 SW 62nd Blvd. No. 1412 in Melrose Apartments, told fire officials that he came home from work and "was lying in bed smoking when I fell asleep."
Minutes later, Wingate awoke at about 5 p.m. to smoke, flames and the smoke detector alarm and realized that his clothes and the mattress were on fire, GFR reported. He was treated for minor burns at the scene, GFR said.
Although Wingate tried to put the fire out with an extinguisher, the flames continued to spread through the apartment, he told officials. Wingate told GFR he then left the apartment, pulled the fire alarm and tried to get other residents out of the 12-unit building.
When firefighters from GFR and Alachua County Fire Rescue arrived, they reported seeing flames leaping from the rear window in the back of the apartment. It took firefighters about 30 minutes to put the fire out, said GFR spokeswoman Krista Ott. The apartment received $100,000 in damages, GFR said.
Residents in the unit above Wingate's were relocated due to smoke damage, Ott said.
Deborah Ball can be reached at (352) 338-3109 or balld@gvillesun.com

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