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Woman smoking while using oxygen starts Butte apartment fire

2013-02-05T12:12:00Z Woman smoking while using oxygen starts Butte apartment fireBy George Plaven Montana Standard Helena Independent Record
February 05, 2013 12:12 pm  • 

BUTTE — Fire damaged a third-floor apartment Monday morning at the Leggat Hotel, 50 W. Broadway St., after the tenant inadvertently set her couch ablaze by smoking while using oxygen.

The woman singed her eyebrows and burned some of her clothes, but otherwise avoided serious injuries, authorities said. She was treated and later released from St. James Healthcare.

Butte fire marshal John Lasky said flames spread into the hallway and activated the emergency sprinkler system, which caused smoke and water damage in seven other apartments.

Firefighters went door-to-door evacuating the building, and nobody was hurt, Lasky said. The building did not suffer structural damage.

Cleaning crews and electricians were already on hand at the Leggat on Monday, though Lasky said it could take them several months to repair everything in the room where the fire started, where he estimated about $10,000 worth of damage.

Until then, the Montana Red Cross and Silver House will assist displaced residents. About 33 people live in the apartments at the Leggat, according to Clarisa Hogart, property manager with the Public Housing Authority of Butte.

Oxygen is one of three ingredients needed to ignite a fire, along with heat and fuel. Therefore, smoking near an oxygen tank poses a major fire hazard, Lasky said.

“If you get enough oxygen, you could burn concrete,” he told The Montana Standard. “We kept this one to a minimum. It could have been a lot worse up there.”

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