A fire ripped through a duplex Sunday morning, leaving one woman dead and five people without a home. The Lubbock Fire Department is warning people of the potential dangers of smoking in the presence of excess oxygen.
“According to everything that we’ve been able to piece together, the caretaker was able to get the disabled person out of the house,” Division Chief Steve Holland said, “And then evidently went back in, we don’t know apparently, there were a couple of dogs that were found later in the house.”
Holland said even a little bit of cigarette ash combined with oxygen has the potential to create a flaming fire.
“That’s kind of what happened yesterday, a plastic bag caught on fire, it caught the recliner on fire. With the increased oxygen in that room, the firefighters were telling me it was just a matter of minutes when they got there from it being a small recliner fire to a full-blown burned out two complete rooms.”
It seems that many people underestimate the potential for danger.
“I don’t know if they’re not aware, or if…we’ve seen people that have done that and you mention to them that it’s not safe,” Holland said, “And they go, ‘Well I’ve been doing this for years,’ and you’re going ‘Yeah, but it just takes one time.'”
But even though it could be deadly, the danger is one hundred percent preventable.
“It’s just not safe, you know if you’re on oxygen but you still think you’ve got to smoke, we’re going to suggest you turn your oxygen off,” Holland said, “Go in another area of the house or probably even outside, do your smoking, and then come back in because the two just don’t mix.”
Holland told EverythingLubbock.com this incident is another important reminder that if you make it out of a burning building, you should keep your distance and let fire crews fight the fire.