SAN BERNARDINO (CBSLA.com) — Officials said a smoker who was using a home oxygen system, narrowly escaped a house fire Saturday in Needles.
Authorities want to also remind the public that smoking and oxygen don’t mix and make for a dangerous, combustible combination.
San Bernardino County firefighters were dispatched to the fire on E Street between 3rd and 4th Street around 10:25 a.m. Saturday.
Crews arrived within four minutes and said they saw smoke billowing from the single-story residence.
Witnesses told first responders that the homeowner — a disabled man — was across the street, seated in a wheelchair. The man had burns to his face and reportedly had difficulty breathing.
The fire was contained to the man’s bedroom within about 15 minutes but authorities said the home suffered extensive smoke damage.
Investigators determined the fire started in the man’s bedroom. The homeowner was smoking while using an oxygen apparatus that helps with his breathing.
Ashes from the man’s cigarette reportedly ignited some oxygen tubing. When the man pulled the burning tube from his face, he dropped it on the carpet igniting the blaze.
Officials estimate the damage to the home to be $20,000 with another $5,000 in property loss.
Authorities said the man’s caretaker arrived shortly after the fire started and was able to get the homeowner out of the house before he was overcome by smoke or fire.
They said the caretaker likely saved the man’s life.
The homeowner’s name and age were not released.