Man dies in apartment fire

A 28-year-old man died during a fire Monday at a Columbiana apartment complex.

The fire burned one unit at Columbiana Villas off Highway 25. The apartment’s tenant, Christopher Jones, died.

Investigators believed the blaze started Sunday night. Fire Chief Johnny Howard Jr. believes the fire started after a discarded cigarette caught a living room couch on fire.

“The fire started sometime earlier that night, before midnight,” Howard said.

By the time firefighters arrived around 7:30 a.m., the fire had already burned out.

“When we arrived, there was no fire,” said Howard. “It smothered itself out.”

No cause of death has been released yet. Shelby County Diana Hawkins said an autopsy will be performed.

Howard said it appears Jones tried to escape but was overcome by smoke inhalation. He was found Monday morning by a neighbor, who called 911.

No other apartments were damaged. Attempts to reach apartment management were unsuccessful.

Howard said the man lived by himself. No other injuries were reported.