The cause of a fire that killed a Bellevue man has been determined.
Sarpy county attorney Lee Polikov said he received a report from the State Fire Marshal investigator indicating the fire started from smoking materials. Polikov said the victim died of smoke inhalation.
Victim of Tuesday night's Bellevue blaze was John Stewart and his friends and co-workers are still trying to deal with the fact that he's not coming back to work. His chair sits empty where Stewart usually spent his workday at Offutt Collision Repair in Bellevue.
“When we come in in the morning we look for John in his chair, that's where he's been for the last five years,” says repair shop owner George Rybar.
“It's kind of unreal to go from one day when you're kind of laughing and punching each other and joking about work and the next day they're not there,” says co-worker Becca Gilbert.
Those who worked with him said he was good at his job as an estimator and had knack for remembering details. He was also well liked in the community. “Everybody just loved him, they knew they could find him down at Pharoah's and have a drink with him and just enjoy his company,” says Gilbert. “He loved to talk, he loved to listen to other people's stories and share stories.”
Stewart's story came to an end Tuesday night at his apartment in the Olde Towne neighborhood.
“When you have a small family we're all close,” says Gilbert. “We all know each other's stories and we all suffer together. We all cheer together, we all win together and of course we are mourning together.”
Stewart's funeral is scheduled for Saturday in Bellevue.