LAS VEGAS -- Local fire departments pride themselves on being able to respond anywhere in the city of Las Vegas within seven minutes, but sometimes that's not even fast enough.
Tim Szymanski with Las Vegas fire and rescue said four senior citizens are dead from smoking related fires this year. Two of the deaths came from smoking in bed.
"We're a little discouraged, because we're doing the best we can and we're pleading with them to be more careful," Szymanski said. "When you're lying on a bed which is made of polyurethane foam, and once that gets going its extremely flammable, it puts out a very noxious smoke, and you take one or two breaths of it, it knocks you to your knees and you can't move."
A YouTube video demonstration shows how quickly a mattress fire can spread within seconds of being set on fire with the mattress giving off thick black smoke.
Szymanski said countless people have been displaced by careless smoking during the past six months.
"Many times we find these people lying on the floor and they were trying to find their way to the door but they are overcome by the poison from the foam," Szymanski said. "They get burned and we transport them to the hospital and when you ask them what happened, they say 'I was smoking, what do you expect, I've been smoking for 60 years, it's hard to stop."
The latest death is a woman who was knocked unconscious this afternoon while trying to escape from her bedroom.