JEROME • Thursday’s Jerome apartment fire that resulted in one fatality was caused by a lit cigarette too close to an oxygen tank, according to Jerome city fire officials.
Wanda Black, 67, died after accidentally starting a fire by lighting a cigarette while connected to an oxygen tank, Jerome Fire Chief Jack Krill said. With oxygen tanks hosed throughout the apartment, the fire was able to spread quickly.
“Oxygen makes things burn hotter and faster,” Krill said. “When you light an oxygen tank, it’s a like a fuse to a bomb.”
Original reports indicated that an explosion had also gone off in the apartment. However, there were no signs of an explosion once firefighters arrived on the scene, Krill said.
“The windows weren’t blown out and there were no signs of pressure waves,” he said. “There may have been a loud ‘woof’ sound from the fire that the neighbors might have heard.”
Police believe the fire was accidental and do not suspect foul play, said Jerome Police Chief Dan Hall.
Black was the only person found in the apartment, Krill said. Firefighters also found a small dog under a desk that died in the fire.
Krill encouraged everyone to remain cautious around oxygen tanks.
“Anybody using home oxygen should be extremely careful around any hot objects or flames,” Krill said. “This means no smoking, no barbecues, no lighting candles. If anyone knows someone who is careless, please take steps to take care of them.”