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Sheriff: Smoking, falling asleep may have led to deadly central MN fire

A woman called authorities to report the fire, then was found dead in the home.

Authorities have revealed more details about the central Minnesota house fire that left two dead, including a possible cause.

A woman identifying herself as Sandra Neumann called authorities to report a fire in her Shamrock Township home at 11:10 p.m. Sunday, the Aitkin County Sheriff's Office says. During the call she said the home was filled with smoke, and that everyone was outside - except their dogs were still in the house.

But when members of the sheriff's office and McGregor Fire Department arrived 20 minutes later, nobody was outside the home.

Inside, however, they found two bodies: Sandra Lee Neumann, 69, and Raymond Jackman, 80. An autopsy determined a preliminary cause of death to be smoke and soot inhalation.

The Aitkin County Sheriff's update does not mention whether they discovered any dogs.

While authorities are still investigating, signs are pointing to cigarettes as a possible cause. The sheriff's office says there's a suspicion of smoking and falling asleep on the couch.

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety often warns about the dangers of careless smoking, noting it's one of the leading causes of fire deaths every year in the state. Cooking incidents are also one of the leading causes.

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