Home oxygen use might have added fuel to the fire that killed a Haverhill woman on Wednesday, reports The Boston Globe.
The medical oxygen's presence at home caused the fire to increase and perhaps made an escape difficult, noted State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan. In addition, the oxygen tank actually detonated during the fire. In firefighting terms, the detonation is referred to as a BLEVE, which means boiling liquid expanding vapor explosion.
Haverhill's Mayor, James J. Fiorentini, took issue with how the fire was handled, and complained about firefighter staffing. This was after he had reduced some firefighting staff, reports The Globe.
Currently, the name of the woman killed has not been released, nor much is known about the manufacturer of the oxygen tank, or of any other flammable things that might have been found in the house.
Of course, some of this information will come to light during an investigation by the fire marshal.
However, other information may come to light via a civil suit from the woman's family, in case they decide to file. While it is just speculation right now, one thing that may be an issue is the integrity of the oxygen tank.
Did it conform to federal and state safety standards? Have oxygen tanks in similar situations blown up as well? Do oxygen tanks that do not detonate exist? If so, why weren't they offered to the elderly woman? Will the staffing issues play a role? It’s a long trail of investigation, which may down the road implicate any number of people.
As such, the best person to handle such a case would be an experienced personal injury attorney.
Of course, much depends on what the investigation actually finds. And for that, more information is needed from Mayor Fiorentini and the local fire department.