An elderly Chesterton woman was badly burned on Tuesday after setting
herself on fire while smoking, the Chesterton Fire Department said.
Fire Chief Mike Orlich told the Chesterton Tribune today that
firefighters were dispatched at 4:10 p.m. to a residence on Windridge Drive
after a 77-year-old woman --whose name Orlich didnít release--ignited her
clothing while smoking a cigarette in the living room at the same time she
was breathing tank oxygen through a nasal cannula.
The womanís daughter managed to pat out the flames herself--sustaining minor
burns to her hands in the process--and the fire was extinguished on the
CFDís arrival, but Orlich estimated that the woman had burns over 30 to 35
percent of her body: on her torso, her arms, and her lower face and ears.
She was transported--conscious and alert--to Porter Regional Hospital in
serious condition and then later airlifted to a Chicago-area hospital. Also
transported to Porter Regional: the womanís daughter, for treatment of the
burns to her hands.
The fire was mostly confined to the womanís person, with the exception of a
few nearby items like her walker, Orlich added.
Oxygen is not itself flammable, Orlich said, but it intensifies and
accelerates fire and the high concentration of it had probably saturated her
clothing and hair, making them very flammable.