Oxygen hose, lit cigarette blamed for house fire in Hawkins County
Dec 9, 2008 at 12:00 AM
ROGERSVILLE — A Hawkins County man’s home was destroyed Friday morning by a fire that started when he reportedly burned a hole in his oxygen mask hose with a cigarette. About 7:20 a.m. Friday the Stanley Valley Volunteer Fire Department was dispatched to the single-wide mobile home of Vernon Simms, 75, 1324 Longs Bend Road. Stanley Valley VFD Chief Stacey Vaughan said the residence was fully engulfed in flames by the time firefighters responded and was a total loss. According to a Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office report filed by Deputy Michael Price, Simms stated that he was sitting on the edge of his bed smoking a cigarette when it somehow burned a hole in the tube of his oxygen mask, igniting a fire. A neighbor, Robert Hillhouse, told the deputy he went to Simms’ home and observed a large fire coming from under the bed in the back bedroom. “(Hillhouse) also stated that he observed Simms trying to extinguish the fire with what appeared to be a glass of water,” Price stated in his report. Price said Hillhouse was able to get Simms out of the residence. Simms was transported to Holston Valley Medical Center via Hawkins County EMS for treatment of smoke inhalation. This wasn’t the first time Hawkins County firefighters have dealt with the combination of a lit cigarette and an oxygen hose. “It plainly says on the oxygen tanks don’t smoke just for this reason,” Vaughan said. “It’s not a safe practice. Pure oxygen is extremely flammable, and we’ve seen what can happen when it comes in contact with a lit cigarette.” The Stanley Valley VFD was assisted at the scene by the Goshen Valley and Surgoinsville departments.