Fatal Hawaii ambulance fire linked to oxygen device

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HONOLULU (AP) — Preliminary findings from an investigation into an ambulance fire that killed a patient and injured a paramedic last month show the blaze originated from a commonly used oxygen device, officials said Wednesday. in Hawaii.

The August 24 fire killed a 91-year-old patient and seriously injured a 36-year-old paramedic when flames engulfed the back of an ambulance in a Kailua hospital parking lot.

“Based on the preliminary findings of this investigation…the fire is classified as accidental and originated at the portable oxygen regulator,” Honolulu Fire Chief Sheldon “Kalani” Hao said during the interview. a press conference. “The exact and definitive cause of this fire cannot be determined within the Honolulu Fire Department.”

Dr Jim Ireland, director of city and county emergency services, said the injured paramedic said he heard a loud sound when connecting a breathing machine called CPAP, which stands for continuous positive airway pressure , to an oxygen source in the back. from the ambulance.

“It is reported that as the paramedic connected the CPAP oxygen line to the portable oxygen cylinder, there was a sound described as a pop, followed by a flash of light with the back of the ambulance immediately filling with smoke and fire,” Ireland said.

He said the emergency medical technician driving the ambulance said he heard the same sound before the fire.

The city hired investigators from the Emergency Care Research Institute, a private, nonprofit company that specializes in evaluating medical devices, to help firefighters determine the cause of the fire.

Ireland said the investigation into what started the fire was ongoing and a final report would be issued when completed.

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