Birch Bay man injured in fire

Published on Wed, Jul 25, 2012 by Jeremy Schwartz

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A Birch Bay man was treated for second-degree burns on his arm and face after a cigarette he was smoking ignited his medical oxygen supply, fire officials say.

Two North Whatcom Fire and Rescue (NWFR) engine companies responded to a call at a modular home fire around 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, July 18, in the 8000 block of Willow Way, NWFR division chief John Swobody said. Crews arrived to find smoke and flames issuing from the home, located in a neighborhood north of Birch Bay Village.

Upon entering, firefighters found a man in his 60s suffering from burns on his arm and face. The man was also experiencing distress from smoke inhalation and was transported to PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center. Swobody said the fire was caused by the man smoking a cigarette while breathing oxygen. Swobody said the relatively rare event illustrates the danger of smoking while hooked up to oxygen.

“It’s not normal,” Swobody said. “Individuals using medical oxygen know they’re not supposed to be doing that.”

Swobody said crews were able to extinguish the fire in 10 to 15 minutes, saving most of the home.

“It was a quick knockdown,” Swobody said.