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Sprinklers saved life of Laconia man smoking while on oxygen

By KATHRYN MARCHOCKI
New Hampshire Union Leader

January 29. 2012 10:56PM



The Laconia man engulfed in flames when his portable medical oxygen tank ignited when he apparently fell asleep drinking and smoking remains in a Boston hospital Sunday with second- and possibly third-degree burns, the fire chief said.

The 57-year-old man's wounds do not appear to be life threatening, but it is difficult to assess a burn victim's condition because they can suffer complications, Fire Chief Kenneth Erickson said.

The man appears to have been intoxicated when he fell asleep in a cushioned recliner inside his 6 Jameson St. apartment about 3:20 p.m. Saturday, the chief said. Firefighters also believe he was smoking.

The chief said he does not know the name of the fire victim, who lives in one of three one-story units at the Millview Apartments complex.

Flames consumed the back of the chair where the man sat and scorched the ceiling above him, Erickson said. Smoke detectors went off, but didn't him wake up, he said. The automatic sprinkler system then went off and appeared to have wakened the man. 'I would say the sprinklers definitely saved his life. The smoke alarms, even though it was going off, it was not getting through to him,' Erickson said. The sprinkler also kept the fire contained to the apartment.

Primary cause of the fire is misuse of medical oxygen materials, Erickson said.


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