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BATAVIA – Careless use of smoking materials is blamed for fire early Tuesday that took the life of an 87-year-old man trapped in his second floor bedroom.

Fire Chief James E. Maxwell blamed the blaze at 10 Davis Avenue on “careless use of smoking materials, i.e. cigarettes and lighters.” He estimated damage at $50,000.

George McConnell died but his wife, Candee, escaped to a back porch, and police took her to a neighbor’s house.

Attempts to put out the fire were hampered, Maxwell said, by piles of clutter, including clothing and newspapers. Several cats also died in the fire.

Davis Avenue is a short street with only 10 houses adjacent to Williams Park in the city’s southwest sector.