Smoking while on oxygen caused Roanoke house fire, explosion

Published: Jan. 18, 2021 at 8:04 PM EST
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - UPDATE: Roanoke Fire-EMS said the fire and explosion that left one dead in Roanoke Monday evening was deemed accidental and started as a result of the victim smoking while on oxygen.

Roanoke Fire EMS says a man smoking while on oxygen sparked a deadly house fire and a small explosion Monday night.

“Last night I was watching the news and I heard this boom,” Bill Stowers said.

Stowers lives about a half mile away. He came Tuesday to Larchwood St NE to take a look at the damage.

Larchwood Ste NE Fire
Larchwood Ste NE Fire(WBDJ7)

“I thought it was one of the businesses over on Williamson Road, it was a rancid smell, and chemical smell,” Stowers said.

The fire injured a woman and killed a man. Roanoke Fire EMS said the man was smoking while using an oxygen tank.

“Anything burns better, quicker, faster, hotter, easier when it is in an enriched oxygen atmosphere and that’s what you have when you’re on oxygen,” Deputy Chief David Guynn said.

The department is now warning people about this dangerous combination in hopes of preventing another tragedy in the Star City.

“We are not telling you to not smoke. We just are telling you if you choose to do that be safe, to turn off the oxygen, to get out of that area if you’re going to smoke,” Guynn said.

The name of the victim is being withheld until the medical examiner makes a positive identification.

The department said no Fire-EMS personnel were injured by the blast.

EARLIER: One person is dead and another was taken to a hospital after fire crews responded Monday to a house fire at around 6:45 p.m. in the 2500 block of Larchwood Street NE.

After finding heavy smoke and flames leaving the building, Roanoke Fire-EMS says a small explosion occurred and blew out the windows.

The fire was brought under control in about 15 minutes.

The cause of the fire is under investigation. Check back for updates.

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