Investigation into fatal house fire concludes: Death accident, cause of blaze undetermined

Local News

The investigation into the cause of the Aug. 24 fire that claimed the life of 44-year-old Samantha M. Hoenig has concluded.

The Iowa State Medical Examiner’s office has determined Hoenig died as a result of smoke inhalation and her death is considered accidental, according to a Tuesday news release from Mark Crooks, fire marshal.

Shortly after 7 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 24, Burlington Police and Fire Departments were called to 1126 Washington Street in Burlington for a reported house fire.

Firefighters arrived at 7:04 a.m. and found a two-story wood frame apartment house with heavy flames showing from the front of the structure.

The 911 callers reported to dispatchers that occupants were trapped inside. The occupants of apartments one and three escaped. The two occupants of apartment one were treated at the scene and transported by ambulance to Southeast Iowa Regional Medical Center in West Burlington.

During a search of the building, firefighters found Hoenig in her second-floor apartment – unit four – and removed her from the building. She was treated at the scene and transported to Southeast Iowa Regional Medical Center in West Burlington, where she later died from her injuries.

The four-unit apartment house, owned by Wilson Rentals of Burlington, sustained extensive damage and is considered a total loss. The property is insured.

Three of the four units were rented and occupied by four people. Hoenig’s apartment had working smoke alarms, the news release says.

Investigators determined the fire originated in apartment one on the first floor. The cause of the fire has been ruled undetermined, because investigators are unable to rule out careless smoking or overloading of electrical extension cords as possible causes.

The investigation was conducted by the Burlington Police and Fire Departments, the Iowa State
Fire Marshal’s Office, and the Iowa State Medical Examiner’s Office.

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