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Smoking and Home Oxygen Don't Mix, Say Firefighters

Springfield firefighters are warning of the dangers of smoking while using home oxygen after two people die this year from oxygen-related fires. KSMU's Jennifer Moore reports.

The most recent death was over the weekend when a 72-year-old Springfield woman died as a result of burns suffered from her house fire.

David Hall, assistant fire chief for the Springfield Fire Department, says home oxygen and smoking do not mix.

Hall said that while oxygen itself is not flammable, it does create an atmosphere for fire to be much more combustible.

This means, even a very small ember which might usually die out can very quickly flare up.

Hall says whenever someone uses home oxygen, it's often because they've had a respiratory disease or depressed respiratory functions.

At times, the whole reason they're on oxygen is because they have been long-term smokers, and they continue smoking even after they start using the oxygen.

Hall said fire officials are not sure what role the oxygen played in this weekend's death. The woman was smoking, and the oxygen was in the room at the time of the fire.

In this year's other fire-related death, Hall said home oxygen was definitely a contributing factor to the fire and subsequently fatal burns.

For KSMU News, I'm Jennifer Moore.