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Fatal Allston fire caused by smoking materials

Officials have identified careless disposal of smoking materials as the cause of the April 28 Allston house fire that killed a Boston University student and injured 15 others.

The three-alarm fire at 87 Linden St. killed College of Arts and Sciences senior Binland Lee and injured of nine Allston residents and six firefighters. Two of those injured were identified as BU students.

“It [the fire] started in an old staircase that wasn’t used anymore,” said Boston Fire Department spokesman Steve MacDonald. “It was a wide open space that those going from the first floor to the second floor to get to the second floor will pass.”

Additionally, city inspectors cited the residence’s landlord, Anna Belokurova, for an unsafe structure, for failing to secure change of occupancy from a two-family home to a home of 19 lodgers and for failing to secure a long form permit to extend the home’s living space to the basement, according to several violation reports.

The cause of the fire was determined from a variety of evidence, including interviews with those close by, MacDonald said.

“Fire investigators based that determination on interviews with people that live in the building,” he said. “They base it on physical evidence from the fire, they based it on burn patterns — basically the way the fire burns. That tells a lot about the way the fire started.”

While the investigation of the cause of the fire has ended, the investigation of Lee’s death is still underway, he said.

“Right now, it’s up to the [Suffolk County] District Attorney to see if this fatal fire warrants any criminal charges and get that resolved,” MacDonald said.

Suffolk County DA spokesman Jake Wark said the DA’s office has assigned a prosecutor to work with the City of Boston and Boston Police Department detectives to determine whether criminal charges are appropriate.

“In Massachusetts, the statutory authority for overseeing a death investigation in the event of a sudden, unattended or suspicious death is given to the District Attorney’s office,” he said. “… That investigation, unlike the cause and origin investigation, is still ongoing.”

Wark said the investigation is ongoing and no specific timeframe is set.

“We’ll follow the evidence and apply the law,” he said. “That’s how we reach all of our charging decisions.”

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