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SIOUX CITY | A discarded cigarette started a fire that damaged a Sioux City home Wednesday evening.

Sioux City firefighters were called at 7:28 p.m. to a fire in a second-story bedroom in a house at 3628 Green Ave.

Sioux City Fire Rescue Lt. Ryan Collins said that upon arrival, firefighters observed smoke coming out of the bedroom window. The fire was contained to the room, though other rooms on the second floor sustained heat and smoke damage. Firefighters were on the scene for about two and a half hours.

The house has been red-tagged as unfit for occupation until an electrician can inspect the building's electrical circuitry to ensure it wasn't damaged.

Collins said smoke alarms alerted the two occupants home at the time, and they were able to safely leave the house and call 911 from a neighbor's home.

The presence of working smoke alarms inside the house kept the fire from becoming a tragedy, Collins said. The occupants were in the basement at the time the fire started, so, without alarms, the fire could have burned much longer before the occupants became aware of it. They were able to get out sooner, and damage was limited.

"We preach and we preach about smoke alarms," Collins said. "Not only do they save lives, but they reduce property damage."

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