Massachusetts Fire Caused by Smoking Near Oxygen Equipment

January 14, 2010

Investigators say a fire at a Massachusetts home that took the life of a 73-year-old resident was caused by smoking around home oxygen equipment.

State Fire Marshal Stephen Coan and Whitman, Mass. Fire Chief Timothy Grenno said in a joint statement that only the quick thinking of a babysitter caring for the victim’s four grandchildren prevented the blaze in the early morning hours of May 16 from becoming a worse tragedy. The babysitter tried going back in for 73-year-old Helena Drass, but was beaten back by the intense flames.

The babysitter suffered smoke inhalation and burns on her hands. She was caring for the children because their mother was out of state attending a wedding.

The fire caused an estimated $80,000 in damage.

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