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The City of Portland, Oregon

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Always Ready, Always There

Phone: 503-823-3700

Fax: 503-823-3710

55 SW Ash Street, Portland, OR 97204

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Portland Fire & Rescue Responds to Smoking-Related Fire Death in SE Portland

December 11, 2011

3:56 PM

At 10:25 pm last night, Portland Fire & Rescue responded to a 70-year old female who was reported to be unconscious and not breathing. Firefighters from Portland Fire (Rockwood) Station 31 arrived within 5 minutes to the Mobile Estates at SE 167th and Division to find a man performing chest compressions on his wife. The patient's husband had been gone and came home to find his wife lying on the floor. Firefighters quickly began an assessment of the patient and checked for signs of breathing and any heart activity but were unable to revive her. During his assessment, a Portland Fire and Rescue paramedic noticed burns on the patient's face and fingers. Also found was what appeared to be cigarette remains and melted oxygen tubing which the patient had originally been using for medical reasons. It appears that the oxygen tubing caught fire and the patient inhaled the toxic smoke and heat from the burning plastic.

"It is extremely important for people in our communities who use supplemental oxygen to understand how they can keep themselves and their loved ones safe from fire," said Portland Fire & Rescue Lieutenant Sam James.

Oxygen is needed for fires to start. A spark that would not normally burn can start a fire because of supplemental oxygen. It is very important to protect yourself, your family and your home by exercising caution when using oxygen equipment. The following are tips on how to stay safe while using supplemental oxygen:

  • Never allow yourself or others to smoke near supplemental oxygen.      
  • Never use oil, lubricants or any other grease on/around oxygen equipment.
  • Never use electrical appliances, such as a hair dryer, while you are using your oxygen.
  • Never use anything flammable, such as gasoline, alcohol-containing sprays or paint thinners, while using your oxygen.
  • Keep your oxygen equipment away from any open flames, such as candles, fireplaces, hot water heaters, gas stoves, etc.
  • Make sure to turn oxygen equipment off when not in use.
  • In case of fire, get out, stay out and call 911.
  • If you hear a hissing sound from your oxygen container make sure to call the company who supplies your oxygen right away.

A Portland Fire Investigator was dispatched to the scene to determine the cause of the fire. The cause of death and the fire are still under investigation and updates will be given as they become available.


Portland Fire & Rescue

We Respond: Always Ready, Always There

December 11, 2011

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