Fatal fire a result of victim smoking with medical oxygen in use

BANGOR, Mich. -- A 65-year-old man died in an apartment fire on Cemetery Road Friday. The Bangor Fire chief said the fire was a result of the victim smoking while medical oxygen was being used in the apartment.

Fire Chief Derek Babcock said the fire at 301 Cemetery Road was ruled accidental.

The chief said it was the second time since the summer of 2020 there has been a fatal fire in the town due to smoking while on medical oxygen.

Medical oxygen creates an oxygen enriched environment, which makes it easier for a fire to start and spread even if the machine isn’t operating, the chief said.

“On behalf of the Bangor Community Fire Department, I offer my condolences to the family and friends of the victim. I ask everyone in our community to make sure they have working smoke alarms installed on every level of their home before going to sleep tonight. This is the second fatal fire in less than a year in the City of Bangor caused by the improper use or disposal of smoking materials. In both fires, the lack of functioning smoke alarms is believed to be a contributing factor in the deaths,” Chief Babcock said in a press release.

The Bangor Community Fire Department offers free smoke alarms to anyone who needs one.

“Keep oxygen cylinders and tubing at least 5 feet from a heat source or electrical devices. Never use a sparking toy, an open flame such as a match or lighter, a fireplace or stove, smoking materials or any other device fueled by gas, kerosene, wood, or coal where medical oxygen is in use,” Chief Babcock said. “There is no safe way to smoke when medical oxygen is in use in the home. Turning off the oxygen is not enough because your clothes, hair, bedding and the tubing soak up the oxygen and become oxygen-enriched.”

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