PERSIA — Firefighters suspect that a lit cigarette landed on tubing for an oxygen tank breathing aid, setting off a fire that destroyed a double-wide mobile home in the Persia community south of Rogersville.
None of the three occupants of the mobile home at 144 South Fork Branch Road was badly injured. Their names weren’t available Sunday, but Hawkins County Central Dispatch said they were treated at the scene and refused transport to the hospital.
Shortly after 3:30 p.m. Saturday, the Persia and Bulls Gap volunteer fire departments were called to the scene, and upon their arrival found the mobile home fully engulfed in flames. The Striggersville Volunteer Fire Department was subsequently called in to provide assistance.
Hawkins County Emergency Management Agency director Gary Murrell, who responded to the fire as a member of the Striggersville department, said Sunday that firefighters were unable to save the residence, which was a total loss.
Murrell added, however, that firefighters did manage to concentrate their water hoses on a part of the residence where oxygen tanks were stored and remove those tanks before they exploded. The fire was so intense that the smoke could be seen from several miles away, Murrell added.
“I was told by other firefighters at the scene that one of the people who lives there is on oxygen, and she laid her oxygen down and lit a cigarette,” Murrell said. “Apparently she dropped the cigarette and it fell right down on the oxygen tubing, and that’s what we were told started the fire. Fortunately none of the tanks exploded.
“They got it cooled down where those were at and pulled them out before they had a chance to go off.”
The Red Cross was called to provide assistance to the family, Murrell added.