Two separate fires in York County on Friday morning were caused by men smoking while using oxygen, said investigators with the state Fire Marshal’s Office. Both men were seriously injured.

David MacDonald, 64, of 18 Boothby Lane in Saco was treated at Maine Medical Center in Portland after a fire erupted when he lit a cigarette while in bed. He was in fair condition late Friday.

Five other residents of the duplex escaped without injury, but the home was destroyed.

“He told investigators he woke up because his face felt hot,” said Assistant Fire Marshal Joe Thomas.

A family member who is a caregiver for MacDonald saw a small but high flame and went to get water. When the person returned, the flames had spread to the bedding, which probably was saturated with liquid oxygen, Thomas said.

Firefighters were called to the house for a report of smoke in the bedroom at 2:47 a.m. and encountered heavy fire inside the house, said fire Capt. Vincent Pelletier.

They were pushed back by the flames initially, then were able to attack the fire and make sure everybody was out, he said. The fire was under control by about 3:30 a.m.

A fire at the home of David Morse, 62, of Owl Ridge Road in Limerick started when he began smoking on the living room couch, investigators said.

The fire broke out at 5:20 a.m. in a home that Morse shares with a relative, and it destroyed the house. Morse was in fair condition at Maine Medical Center late Friday.

Oxygen is often used by people who have smoking-related lung disease. The gas can increase the speed at which fire burns and create a fireball. Also, oxygen can saturate clothing, increasing the risk of burn injuries.

 

Staff Writer David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at: [email protected]