Fire officials: Fatal apartment fire started by candle

The east Madison apartment fire early Sunday that killed a man was caused by a candle, fire officials said Tuesday.

Madison Fire Department spokeswoman Cynthia Schuster said the fire at 6 Sherman Terrace in Unit No. 2 that was reported at 4:44 a.m. was an accident and resulted from an unattended candle in the master bedroom.

“This tragic incident serves as a reminder to all of us to use candles safely and to never leave candles unattended,” Schuster said.

The Dane County Medical Examiner identified the man who died as 58-year-old Sidney M. Nowland. He died from injuries he suffered in the blaze.

The fire department also said Monday that the estimated damage to the unit is approximately $20,000.

Eleven people were displaced but have since returned to their homes, officials said.

Fire Chief Steve Davis said there is some question as to whether the condo’s fire alarms were working during the fire.

“What we do know if the crews entered the building they did not hear a smoke alarm going off,” he said.

Per city ordinance, all buildings are required to have lithium battery, tamper-proof smoke alarms. City inspectors ensure the alarms are in place during construction of buildings but don’t check back up on those buildings unless a renter files a complaint.

Madison firefighters conduct bi-annual inspections of all buildings with common spaces. Both city and fire inspectors say the condo in question had no previous complaints.

To avoid candle-related fires, the fire department suggested residents should be aware of any objects that could catch fire near a lit candle, use a holder designed for candle use, avoid placing candles near vents and extinguish the flame before leaving the room or going to bed. Lit candles should also be kept out of reach of children and pets.

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