Smoking has been ruled the cause of two fatal fires in west-central Minnesota.

The state fire marshal reported Jan. 24 that smoking caused the fire that led to the death of Virginia Lois Kruger, 83, of Montevideo. The Jan. 14 fire originated in her apartment and caused extensive smoke damage to the complex. The fire displaced tenants in the building's five other units.

A state fire marshal investigation into the Oct. 23, 2019, death of Kenneth Allan Muehlbauer, 62, of Madison also determined smoking as the cause of the fire. A preliminary autopsy found that Muehlbauer died of smoke inhalation.

It’s believed that Muehlbauer fell asleep on a couch with a lit cigarette in the basement family room of the single-story home in Madison. The lack of a working smoking detector was a contributing factor, according to the report. Firefighters were able to confine the fire to the family room.

A female occupant of the home was treated for smoke inhalation.