Deadly Greenville Fire Ruled Accidental

Fire investigators say a fire that took the life of a Greenville woman Friday night was caused by a cigarette.

Killed in the fire on Harding Street was 63-year-old Franceine Rees. "The decedent was a smoker. She left a cigarette unattended and it had fallen into the paper and started the fire. It spread up to the love seat and created a lot of dense black smoke," said Battalion Chief Doug Branch.

The Medical Examiner's Office says Rees, who was the widow of ECU communications professor Jim Rees, died of smoke inhalation with a contributing factor of alcohol intoxication. Her death has been ruled an accident.

Rees worked at ECU in the news bureau. Her funeral will be at 2:00 p.m. Tuesday at St. Paul's Episcopal Church.

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Flames broke out after 6:30PM according to fire officials. Family members confirm 64-year-old Franceine Rees passed away at the hospital.

Kathy Walton, the niece of Franceine Rees confirms the 63-year-old passed away Friday evening.

Rees, who was an ECU graduate, worked at East Carolina in the news bureau writing Alumni letters and keeping up with University correspondence.

Walton says Rees' son David told her crews worked on scene for 20 minutes to try and revive Franceine Rees, but their efforts wouldn't help.

Walton says Rees' throat was swollen from the smoke from the fire. She says Rees was stuck inside for awhile before she was rescued.

Rees is survived by her son David.

Rees' husband Jim, who was an ECU professor passed away in 2008.

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Fire consumed a Greenville home Friday night while a woman was inside.

It happened in the 100 block of South Harding Street.

Flames broke out after 6:30PM according to fire officials.

As of an hour later, the two story home fire was contained.

The woman who was inside at the time was suffered from smoke inhalation.

Neighbors say the woman was in her mid 60's and was taken to the hospital.

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