FIre Marshall Issues Warning

Earlier this month Linda Mowray talked about what happened at Skyline Trailer Park after her neighbor tried to save a couple trapped in thier burning home.

"They had oxygen tanks in the house... and when the guy went in the oxygen tanks exploded and it killed him instantly... it was terrible."

The August 11th fire killed three people and injured two firefighters...all caused by smoking near an oxygen tank.....just five days later another death..this time in Jackpot. It would kill an 82 year old woman who was also smoking while she was using her oxygen tank.

State Fire Marshall James Wright says its a distrubing trend.

"Since the first of this year there have been five fatalities that we have found that smoking and oxygen use have directly related or were contributing factors to those fatalities--it is preventable."

Wright says fire feeds off oxygen. While the tank doesn't explode when exposed to ignition..the oxygen emitting from tubes coming off the tank makes the fire burn faster and more intense...its tough for people to react quickly.

Here at Sierra Oxygen Services in Carson City employees instruct customers about the dangers of smoking and using oxygen. Signs are posted on the tanks and even in the windows of homes of those using oxygen. Still some clients don't think it will happen to them.

Cindy Wendell of Sierra Oxygen Services says many patients are on oxygen because of years of smoking in the first place.

"Sometimes it just singes them. The plastic tube will melt almost instantly and will go the inside of the nose and singes the inside of the nose they usually have to go to the emergency room and have the plastic removed."

Linens and clothing often used and worn around oxygen can become saturated, making it more combustable than normal.

Those on oxygen tanks are advised to stay at least six feet away from an open flame or heat source, including stoves or candles. Aerosol cans of hair spray or air fresheners can be problematic. Oil based salves, lotions, and lip balm should be avoided. Look for water based instead.

Fires that ensue don't necessarily affect just the person on the oxygen tank.

Two years ago 23 elderly people died near Dallas when a bus they were on caught fire...
11-oxygen tanks stored for the passengers ruptured and melted accelerating the fire.