Saturday, July 07, 2001

Oxygen, ammo fueled fire


One occupant of home in critical condition

By Amanda York
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        UNION — Oxygen tanks, ammunition and other explosive materials contributed to a fire Thursday evening that hospitalized a 40-year-old man with serious burns on about 60 percent of his body.

        Patrick Shackleford, 40, and his mother, Patsy Shackleford, 57, were inside the house on Beaver Road when the fire erupted. Mr. Shackleford was taken to University Hospital, where he was being treated for the burns and trauma to his airway. A spokeswoman with the hospital said Friday he was in critical condition.

        Mrs. Shackleford was taken to St. Luke Hospital West and treated for minor injuries and released.

        Explosive materials in the house aided the quick spread of the fire, Union Emergency Services Chief Michael Morgan said. Oxygen cylinders, along with a machine used by someone who has breathing difficulties, and “a tremendous amount of ammunition” exploded as the fire's temperatures increased.

        “It sounded like the Fourth of July when I arrived,” Chief Morgan said. He said there may also have been black powder in the house.

        The oxygen cylinders, he said, made “loud, popping noises” and rocketed out of the house. One landed in the back yard, about 70 feet from the back porch.

        “Luckily nobody was standing in front of the rear porch when the oxygen cylinders shot out of the house,” he said. “That would have been deadly.”

        Union Emergency Services was dispatched to the scene at 6:47 p.m. Florence Fire Chief Tom Ollier, who lives four houses down, called in the fire, which was in full force when the squad arrived. Chief Morgan said flames were shooting out of the back porch, windows and a covered porch area of the house.

        Chief Morgan said the house was a total loss.

        Homeowners who use oxygen cylinders should be wary about where they store them, Chief Morgan said. Since they are needed for medical problems, it's hard to store them in secluded areas because the patient may need them quickly. He advised that people who have them be aware of their explosiveness and plan accordingly.

        Another factor that contributed to the seriousness of the fire was its construction. Chief Morgan said the house was originally a dou ble-wide aluminum trailer. A brick structure had been built around the mobile home, and a wooden roof with shingles had been placed on top of the mobile home's metal roof.

        This construction prevented the fire departments from attacking the fire from the top, he said.

        “It was like an oven,” Chief Morgan said. “It just gets so hot it basically incinerates everything.”

        Burlington Fire Protec tion District, Bellevue McVille Fire Protection District, Florence Fire and EMS, Walton Fire Protection District, Verona Fire Protection District and Boone County Emergency Management assisted.

        The cause is being investigated by the Boone County Sheriff's Department and the Boone County Fire Chiefs' Association.

       



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