Birch Bay man injured in fire sparked when cigarette met oxygen supply

Published on Fri, Jul 20, 2012 by Jeremy Schwartz

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A Birch Bay man is being 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 of a modular home fire at about 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 emanating from the home, which lies in a neighborhood just north of Birch Bay Village.

Upon entering the home, firefighters found a man in his 60s with what appeared to be second-degree burns on his arm and face. The man, who was also suffering from smoke inhalation, was transported to PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center.

Swobody attributed the cause of the fire to the man smoking a cigarette while on medical oxygen, which was being fed through tubes into the man’s nostrils. While Swobody has never encountered such a fire before in Whatcom County, he said the relatively rare event does illustrate the dangers of smoking while hooked up to a medical oxygen tank.

“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.

 

 

 
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