Cigarette sparks fatal oxygen fire at assisted living facility
News-Journal wire services

LARGO -- A resident of an assisted living facility died after a cigarette he lit in his room ignited his oxygen tubes and started a fire.

Patrick Stewart, 48, lit the cigarette Thursday morning in his first-floor room at The Homestead, a 168-resident assisted living facility where he lived.

"It appears Patrick inhaled a significant amount of fire," said District Chief Pat McGinley.

Staff members dragged Stewart from his apartment and tried resuscitating him in a hallway, while another grabbed a fire extinguisher and put out the small blaze, said Mark Jones, the Largo fire marshal.

Other staff members evacuated residents from nearby apartments.

Stewart was pronounced dead at the scene.

No other residents were injured. Damage from the fire was limited to the victim's room, said Pat McGinley, district fire chief of Largo Fire Rescue.

McGinley said Stewart was not allowed to smoke in his room.

Staff members told fire investigators that they had never seen him smoke in his room before. He apparently always went outside to smoke, McGinley said.

At the time he lit the cigarette, Stewart was inhaling oxygen through two plastic prongs in his nostrils.

"It's a formula for disaster," McGinley said.

Stewart's cigarette caused a flash fire that engulfed his head, McGinley said. The suspected cause of death is inhalation of flame and smoke