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

Published on Fri, Jul 20, 2012 by Jeremy Schwartz

Read More The Lighthouse Blog

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.



Inside the Lighthouse

Welcome to the Lighthouse, the official blog of The Northern Light newspaper. The Lighthouse is the place for some breaking news, previews of upcoming articles, smaller news items and some tidbits of local information that might not make it into the print edition of The Northern Light.

The Northern Light reporter Steve Guntli will be the main contributor to The Lighthouse, but other staff from The Northern Light may add items from time to time.

The Lighthouse is a work in progress and may undergo substantial changes as readers react to the content posted here. The Northern Light kindly asks for the patience of its readers as we edge ever so slightly into the world of blogging.

Thank you, and enjoy The Lighthouse Blog!