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Woman Rescued from Fire After Smoking on Oxygen

By Cassandra Allen

A Lewiston resident has been rescued from a fire after smoking while using oxygen treatment. This follows electrical fires which caused $50,000 worth of damage and displaced 25 people. Local government and fire services, including new fire chief Brian Stockdale, are increasing efforts to educate residents about fire safety in order to prevent accidents in future.

“No Information Released”

The victim has been identified as Rosalie Coulombe, a 74-year-old resident of 61 Shawmut Street. Firefighters arrived at her first floor apartment at around 8 p.m. on September 20. They found Coulombe unresponsive in the bathroom. A spokesman for the State Fire Marshal’s office confirmed that the fire originated on the sofa, where Coulombe is reported to have been smoking.

Beyond these facts, the family of the victim have requested that no information on Coulombe’s current condition be released. However, it has been revealed that the woman was alone and being treated with oxygen at the time. This has led to an outcry from activists encouraging those on oxygen not to smoke.

Advice from Doctors and Firefighters

Oxygen is not a flammable substance, so it isn’t immediately obvious not to smoke while oxygen is in use. However, it creates an environment in which a fire can quickly ignite and rapidly spread through the home. It is important to note that most fires in the home are safe. Fireplaces create pleasant interiors and have improved the homes of many Lewiston residents. As long as the flame is not naked, but protected behind a fireguard, then oxygen can be used at a safe distance.

Smoking, conversely, creates a naked spark which can quickly ignite if oxygen is in use. The same is true for open flame cookers. Doctors will generally advise their patients not to smoke while using oxygen, but this advice is sadly often ignored. This seems to be the situation in the case of Ms. Coulombe, but could affect anyone.

If you have been placed on oxygen therapy, then don’t cause a potentially dangerous situation by lighting up a cigarette. The use of fireplaces as we move into winter are generally fine, but stay away from exposed flames. Smoking less will keep your Lewiston property safe from damage, not to mention the improvement you will experience in lung health. While we value our local fire department, don’t give them extra work by ignoring the instructions of your doctor.

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