Chesterton Tribune



Smoking while using oxygen blamed for serious burns here

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An elderly Chesterton woman was badly burned on Tuesday after setting herself on fire while smoking, the Chesterton Fire Department said.

Fire Chief Mike Orlich told the Chesterton Tribune today that firefighters were dispatched at 4:10 p.m. to a residence on Windridge Drive after a 77-year-old woman --whose name Orlich didnít release--ignited her clothing while smoking a cigarette in the living room at the same time she was breathing tank oxygen through a nasal cannula.

The womanís daughter managed to pat out the flames herself--sustaining minor burns to her hands in the process--and the fire was extinguished on the CFDís arrival, but Orlich estimated that the woman had burns over 30 to 35 percent of her body: on her torso, her arms, and her lower face and ears.

She was transported--conscious and alert--to Porter Regional Hospital in serious condition and then later airlifted to a Chicago-area hospital. Also transported to Porter Regional: the womanís daughter, for treatment of the burns to her hands.

The fire was mostly confined to the womanís person, with the exception of a few nearby items like her walker, Orlich added.

Oxygen is not itself flammable, Orlich said, but it intensifies and accelerates fire and the high concentration of it had probably saturated her clothing and hair, making them very flammable.


Posted 8/21/2013