SKOWHEGAN — A woman smoking a cigarette while using oxygen caused the fire that severely injured her Sunday afternoon and destroyed the mobile home she was living in, fire officials said Monday.

It was the second fire in just three days that severely injured people in Skowhegan.

The woman in Sunday’s fire, Michelle Sweet, 53, a resident of 45 Hilltop Drive in Ames Trailer Park, was listed in critical condition at Maine Medical Center in Portland Monday, according to a hospital spokeswoman.

In a Friday night fire, Andrea Curtis, 24, and her son, Tyler Curtis-Benson, 4, suffered burns over much of their bodies, a family member said Monday. Andrea Curtis has burns over 60 percent of her body and lost the skin on her face, a cousin, Tylene Bergeron, said Monday.

In Sunday’s fire, Skowhegan Fire Chief Shawn Howard said investigators from the Office of Maine State Fire Marshal determined that the fire started when the 53-year-old lit up a cigarette, which ignited the oxygen. He said the injuries included internal burns and smoke inhalation.

“We did training last winter on that exact scenario — an ignition source while using oxygen,” Howard said at the fire station Monday morning. “You have a very, very fast moving, intense fire, and it will follow that oxygen back to the source, which it absolutely did in this case. Once it reached the source, you had a larger fire that destroyed her home.”


Sweet was able to get out of the house and was found outside near a neighbor’s car just after 2 p.m. Sunday. She was taken by Lifeflight helicopter to Maine Medical Center.

“Her injuries were very severe internally,” Howard said. “What generally happens when somebody is using oxygen while smoking, there’s a flash fire and oftentimes the fire will actually be internal. There’s not a lot of external injuries, but there’s a lot of internal damage, and she had smoke inhalation also.”

He said the investigation into that fire is complete.

Howard said state investigators are still looking for the cause of a fire Friday night that injured Curtis and her son, Tyler, at their mobile home at 279 North Ave. in Skowhegan.

Curtis was listed in critical condition Monday at Maine Medical Center. Her son has been at Shriners Hospital for Children in Boston since he was pulled from the burning mobile home just before 8:30 p.m. Friday by Skowhegan police Officer Tim Williams.

Family members say the boy’s condition is improving. A hospital spokesperson on Monday said she couldn’t release information on Tyler over the phone.


Tylene Bergeron, of Skowhegan, Curtis’ cousin, said Andrea lost the skin on her face to burns that cover 60 percent of her body. Tyler is doing better, but still suffers from burns over 40 percent of his body, Bergeron said. She said the little boy’s lungs are clear from smoke inhalation, but he remains on a ventilator.

For Andrea, her condition is “touch and go,” Bergeron said. She was scheduled to have surgery on her arm Monday, but took a turn for the worse overnight.

“They thought yesterday she was doing much better, but then after midnight last night there was a huge panic and things went really downhill very quickly,” Bergeron said by phone Monday. “Now they’re telling the family it’s hour by hour — they just don’t know.”

Bergeron said Andrea has burns “from her belly button to the top of her head.”

“She has third degree burns. There’s no skin on her face. They removed all the skin off her face,” she said.

A GoFundMe site has been created to raise money for Curtis and her son.


Bergeron wrote on Facebook Monday evening that surgery went well for Curtis, who was still in critical condition but doing better.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]


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