Girl burst into flames from olive oil, hand sanitiser and static electricity mix

By Cassandra Mason

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

The fire that left an 11-year-old cancer survivor with third-degree burns after she burst into flames in an Oregon Hospital was caused by a combustible mix of olive oil, static electricity and hand sanitiser.

Ireland Lane, a cancer survivor, was being evaluated at Doernbecher Children's Hospital in Portland on February 2 after she hit her head and lost consciousness at school, ABC reported.

Her father, Stephen Lane, was sleeping in her hospital room when the front of her t-shirt suddenly caught fire.

Mr Lane jumped to extinguish the flames, but his daughter had already suffered third-degree burns to most of her torso and head.

Doctors at the hospital were baffled.

"I've been in medicine going back 30 years now and never heard anything like this.

And hopefully I never will again" Dr Stacy Nicholson, paediatrician at Doernbecher, told ABC News.

Fire investigators have since concluded that sparks generated from static electricity in the hospital bed sheets ignited an alcohol-based hospital hand sanitiser Ireland had used to clean a table over her bed.

Their report, released today, also found that olive oil - which patients are often given to clean themselves after Electroencephalography exams - apparently made the fire worse as the girl's t-shirt was soaked with it.

"The olive oil was combed through her hair, and was noted as dripping on her shirt. The girl also was running her hands through her hair and wiping the oil on her shirt" fire investigator Daniel Jones wrote in the report.

"It was determined that the ignition source would not have been adequate to ignite the olive oil on the shirt without the presence of the hand sanitiser as well"

Ireland is undergoing skin grafts and it is expected she will be hospital for several weeks.

Mr Lane said his daughter didn't remember the incident.

"She still has bad dreams, but she doesn't recall the actual incident, which from my perspective is very good" he told the Oregonian.

"She's quite a tough one"

- nzherald.co.nz

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