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Oxygen, Smoking Cause Explosion

By Staff | Dec 7, 2011

New Martinsville firefighters responded to a report of an explosion at 410 Maple Avenue, Apt #2 on Saturday evening. Firefighters were notified of the explosion at 9:15 p.m. and arrived on the scene at 9:21 p.m. to find that a 70-year-old male victim had been burned and was in serious need of medical attention.

According to the report being filed by the New Martinsville Fire Department, the male victim was on constant medical oxygen in his home, furthermore the victim had a heavy beard and mustache. These components apparently served as a catalyst to the incident that resulted in the victim’s medical oxygen saturating his facial hair and when he attempted to light some smoking materials an explosion occurred on his face.

“Although we are uncertain at this time as to the extent of the victim’s burns, we do know that his facial hair was singed, along with the hair on his head and in his nose,” said Larry Couch, NMVFD fire chief. “It is likely the man, who was already suffering a respiratory condition, may have further compromised his condition with possible burns to his respiratory tract.”

The male victim was transported to Wetzel County Hospital by Wetzel County EMS and was later flown from there to the West Penn Burn Center in Pittsburgh, Pa. His condition is unknown.

“This is the second such incident like this that we have had in a year,” Couch said. “We had an incident on Wetzel Street where a medical patient on home oxygen and confined to her bed attempted to light her smoking materials and a “flash fire” occurred on her bedding.

“We often encounter these medical patients who are calling for emergency medical care and when you arrive at their homes, they are on oxygen and smoking. They simply ignore all the warnings and it sometimes leads to injuries and even death as a result of the oxygen saturated ignitable materials around them,” Couch said. “We encourage all medical patients, their care givers, and family members to heed the warnings; develop a clear understanding about the dangers of the use of medical home oxygen.”

Anyone with questions can contact their oxygen provider or find additional information at the US Fire Administration or US Volunteer Fire Council Web sites.