However, she passed away in the early summer.


Senior dies after setting herself on fire at Oak Bay Lodge. Care homes to take flammable materials away from residents

By Katie DeRosa, Times Colonist January 10, 2010

VIHA is investigating an accidental death in one of its residential-care homes after an elderly woman set herself on fire while lighting a candle early Saturday morning.

Staff at the Oak Bay Lodge on Cadboro Bay Road rushed to the television room around 2:10 a.m. when they heard a woman screaming for help, Vancouver Island Health Authority spokesman Stephen May said.

They found the 76-year-old woman ablaze so someone put the flames out with a fire extinguisher as another staff member called 9-1-1, said Dave ****le, the Oak Bay Fire Department’s deputy chief.

The fire was out by the time firefighters arrived and the woman, suffering from serious burns, was taken to hospital by B.C. Ambulance paramedics, ****le said.

She succumbed to her injuries sometime Saturday, May said.

“We will do an investigation to determine how this happened and how it can be prevented,” May said. “From first glance, staff acted very well.”

As a result of the accident, VIHA has asked all residential-care facilities to take candles, lighters and matches away from residents. It also wants them to post signs warning people to exercise caution when using flammable items, he said.

Smokers will have to ask staff for matches or a lighter when having a cigarette, May said.

He said the investigation, which will be conducted by VIHA’s community care and safety staff along with the Oak Bay Fire Department, likely will determine whether these precautionary measures will be made permanent.

May said it’s not clear why the woman was awake in the middle of the night. He said some residents are closely monitored because of their health conditions. But for the most part, residents are not barred from moving about the facility after hours.

“These places are essentially their homes,” he said. “We can’t lock them down at 10 p.m.”

Due to privacy laws, May could not say whether the woman had any mental-health problems. He was not sure how long she had been living in the facility.

The woman’s family has been notified but as of Sunday night, her name had not been released.

Support will be available for Oak Bay Lodge staff and residents, May said.

kderosa@tc.canwest.com

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