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Overload blamed for fatal fire

August 12, 2011

Donna and Claude West

    Officials of the Decatur Fire Department have announced that the cause of the fire which took the lives of an elderly married couple in the city last Thursday was due to overloading of the electrical circuits in their home.
    Claude and Donna West, ages 74 and 71, respectively, died of smoke inhalation in their house at 720 Elm St. There funeral service was scheduled for 1 p.m. today in Zwick and Jahn Funeral Home.
    Decatur Fire Chief Les Marckel this morning confirmed the electrical cause of the fire. Earlier, the DFD's assistant chief, Jim Hitchcock, who is also the department's fire investigator, had reported that the electrical system in the living room, where the blaze began, was overloaded with appliances, including an air conditioner.
    The Wests did not have a functioning smoke detector in the house.
    The fire department has estimated the fire damage to the dwelling at approximately $30,000.

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