The Waterville Fire Department is warning anyone using a home oxygen system to avoid smoking materials or open flames, after a woman who lives on Spruce Street burned her face while using oxygen and trying to light a cigarette on Thanksgiving morning.

“There was more or less a ball of fire around her face, and her face was burning,” said Capt. John Gromek of the Waterville Fire Department.

The woman’s husband tried to pat the flames out, burning his own hand, Gromek said. When crews arrived from the Waterville Fire Department and Delta Ambulance, they treated the woman and brought her to the emergency room of the Thayer Center for Health.

The fire was reported around 9:45 a.m. The husband declined to go to the hospital for his own injury.

Later in the day, Gromek did not know the woman’s medical condition or whether she was transferred to another hospital, he said. He declined to identify her, citing patient privacy laws.

In a news release Thursday afternoon, the Waterville Fire Department described the ease with which fire can spread when there’s an abundance of oxygen in the air and advised people to avoid situations where that can occur.

“Unfortunately this incident is a reminder of the dangers of smoking while using home oxygen,” the department warned. “A person using home oxygen has an increased fire danger because of the oxygen use in their residence. The oxygen-rich environment could cause items that are nearby to burst into flames. Items such as clothes, hair and furniture become saturated with oxygen and may ignite more readily. The use of smoking materials and open flames should be avoided while the oxygen is being used.”

Charles Eichacker — 621-5642

[email protected]

Twitter: @ceichacker


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