Bob stepped out for a smoke

Bassim

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I am wondering if my sentence sounds natural.

Bob stepped out for a smoke when the fire started on the second floor of the office building.
 

teechar

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Which happened first?!
Try:
When Bob stepped out for a smoke, a fire started on the second floor of the office building.
 

Bassim

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teechar,

Thank you for reminding me which happened first. I didn't think about that until you told me. First Bob stepped out for a smoke, and then a fire started.

Could I rephrase my sentence like this:

Bob stepped out for a smoke just before a fire started on the second floor of the office building.
 

teechar

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Yes, but I would use "had stepped out" in that last sentence.
 

Skrej

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Otherwise, without some references as to the sequence of events, it sounds like Bob's (ironic) reaction to the fire starting was to merely step outside for a smoke.

"Oh, there's a fire on the second floor. Good time for a quick smoke." :)

There's probably a good comedy scene in that scenario, just waiting to be written.
 

Tdol

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If the building were being evacuated, it would be churlish not to take the opportunity for a cigarette break.;-)
 
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