Elderly man died following West Springfield fire

Victim had been smoking while on medical oxygen

WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – An elderly man died from injuries sustained in a fire at his West Springfield apartment late last week.

According to a news release from Jennifer Mieth, spokesperson for the State Fire Marshal’s Office, the man had been smoking while on medical oxygen. She says that the victim’s clothing ignited, and he ran to the sink, attempting to put the fire out with water.

The fire took place Friday at 51 Van Deene Avenue, which is very close to the town’s main fire station. Mieth says that the man’s name is not being released until his family has been notified.

“Our hearts go out to the victim’s family at this tragic loss. It is fortunate that no one else was injured in the fire. We are concerned that this behavior put everyone else in the building at risk,” West Springfield Fire Chief William Flaherty said.

Fire Marshal Peter Ostroskey says that patients on oxygen and their family members need to be fully educated on the fire dangers that medical oxygen can pose. He says that in the past 10 years, some 20 people have died in fires where home oxygen was either the cause, or a factor in the rapid spread of the flames.