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Missoula-area firefighters work to put out a fire in a motor home in West Riverside on Friday evening. One occupant of the vehicle made it out and was transported to the hospital. 

The Missoula County Sheriff’s Office has entered into an investigation of a fire that destroyed a motor home in West Riverside on Friday after new information came to light over the weekend.

Missoula Rural Fire initially ascribed the cause of the fire to a burning cigarette after a woman in the motor home fell asleep while smoking.

“We’re looking into some possible other potential causes,” Capt. Ron Lubke said Monday. “We suspect smoking still played a role, but we’re trying to track that down right now.”

The woman who was the occupant of the 1985 Mallard, Class C, motor home was hospitalized and released with non-life threatening injuries. A press release from Missoula Rural shortly after the fire was extinguished indicated she was smoking and fell asleep.

She escaped with assistance from the owner of the motor home and a resident of 7700 West Riverside Drive. The man who owned the motor home also suffered a minor injury but refused treatment at the scene. A dog inside the RV escaped unharmed.

The motor home was a total loss with damage to it and contents initially estimated at $4,000. Firefighters saved an estimated $180,000 of property by preventing the fire from reaching a house 20 feet away and a nearby car.

It was the second fire this month attributed to smoking. On Oct. 2 a discarded cigarette started a rubbish and grass fire near Northwest Paint Inc., at the Bonner mill site. That fire almost ignited the building.

In a press release Missoula Rural Fire reminded smokers not to smoke in bed, when lying down or if sleepy, and to use only fire-safe cigarettes. Smoke outdoors in designated safe areas, as most deaths result from fires in living rooms, family rooms and dens or in bedrooms.

Keep cigarettes and smoking materials out of reach of children, in a locked cabinet and use a deep, sturdy ashtray placed away from flammable materials.

The department also said cigarettes should not be discarded in dried grasses, leaves or other materials that could ignite easily. Make sure butts and ashes are out before thrown away; dousing in water or sand is the best way to do that.

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Mineral County, veterans issues

Outlying communities, transportation, history and general assignment reporter at the Missoulian