Lethbridge police and the fire department have determined the death of a 50-year-old man in a house fire over the weekend to be accidental.
Firefighters responded to a call about a house fire along the 600 block of 5 Street S. on Saturday at about 1:30 a.m.
When crews arrived, they found the man in the bedroom of his basement suite in life-threatening condition. He was taken to Chinook Regional Hospital where he later succumbed to his injuries.
READ MORE: Man, dog dead after Lethbridge house fire
“Our investigators found that the fire originated in the kitchen area,” said Chief Fire Marshall Heath Wright on Tuesday.
“At this time, we’re just trying to rule out whether it was an electrical appliance… through forensic science and engineering or if it was actual cooking.”
A 24-year-old woman living on the main floor of the home escaped without injury. A dog was also found dead inside the building.
Some neighbours have left items — such as a teddy bear, a Spider-Man balloon and flowers — in front of the house in memory of the 50-year-old man.
Local shop owner Lexi Fowler said he visited her shop nearly every day.
“He was a really happy guy. Every time you’d see him, he was always smiling, always laughing,” she said.
“He tried his best to help absolutely everybody. He’d help his neighbours mow the lawn, watch everybody’s kids. You’d always see him going by with a troop of children to get them a Slurpee and things like that. He was really a terrific fellow.”
In light of the incident, the fire department is reminding residents to keep basement suites safe in the event of an emergency.
“Making sure that your basement suite windows are big enough for people to get through and free of obstruction,” said Wright. “That the exits are free of any obstructions and clear and also… that your smoke detectors are all hard-wired and interconnected.”