Laconia man wakes up on fire, burned badly
LACONIA — A 57-year-old man suffered third-degree burns after he fell asleep while using medical oxygen and smoking, igniting a fire in his Jameson Street apartment.
Laconia Fire Department Capt. Bob Landry said the man, who depends on a home oxygen tank because of medical problems, ';fell asleep with a cigarette in his hand.';
The man';s lit cigarette ignited the oxygen, he said. ';He woke up and he was on fire.';
When firefighters arrived, the man, clad only in his underwear, was standing in the doorway of his apartment ';with fire lapping all around him.';
The man uses a wheelchair but managed to ';hobble'; to the front steps, Landry said. ';All he could do was stand, holding onto a beam.';
The man was taken by ambulance to Lakes Region General Hospital and then flown by DART helicopter to a Boston hospital, Landry said. The man suffered burns to his face, arms, hands and the right side of his body and was in serious condition, Landry said.
';He has probably 40 percent of his body burned, a good portion of it third-degree,'; he said.
Landry would not release the man';s identity, citing patient confidentiality laws.
The fire followed the oxygen tubing across the apartment, Landry said, ';burning its way through the rug, and then it got to the oxygen machine itself and set that on fire.';
Landry said oxygen can saturate the user';s hair and clothing. When a lit cigarette comes in contact with the oxygen, he said, ';all that immediately goes up in flames, and you end up with facial burns.';
Landry said the building';s sprinklers were working and fire damage was confined to the one apartment. Three other units in the same building are vacant.
The captain said it';s the third fire involving smoking and medical oxygen that he';s seen in recent years.
A recent report by the state Fire Marshal';s Office found that smoking materials were the leading cause of residential fire fatalities from 2005 to 2010, responsible for 1 in 4 deaths. And it found 8 percent of the victims were smoking while using medical oxygen.