BANGOR — Following an investigation over the weekend, Bangor Community Fire Department on Monday released the cause of death of a 65-year-old Bangor man who died Friday, March 5 as a result of a fire in his apartment.
Firefighters were called at 4 p.m. on Friday, March 5 to Eastbrook Senior Apartments on Cemetery Road to a report of a fire that occurred in apartment No. 1 at the complex. The man was taken to Bronson South Haven Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Bangor Fire Chief Derek Babcock said the fire has been ruled accidental and has been attributed to the improper disposal of smoking materials near a medical oxygen device, and lack of a functioning smoke alarm.
Babcock did not release the name of the fire victim.
“The investigation has just been competed,” he said in a phone interview several days after the fire. “I don’t think the family wants his name released.”
Babcock said the man’s death marks the second fire-related fatality since the summer of 2020 in Bangor that can be attributed to people smoking while on medical oxygen. When medical oxygen is used, the amount of oxygen in the air, bedding, furniture, clothing and hair can increase, making it easier for a fire to start and spread, whether or not the oxygen machine is operating.
“On behalf of the Bangor Community Fire Department, I offer my condolences to the family and friends of the victim,” Babcock said in the release.
“I ask everyone in our community to make sure they have working smoke alarms installed on every level of their home before going to sleep tonight. This is the second fatal fire in less than a year in the city of Bangor caused by improper use or disposal of smoking materials. In both fires, the lack of functioning smoke alarms is believed to be a contributing factor in both deaths.”
Babcock urged people on oxygen machines to keep the oxygen cylinders and tubing at least five feet from a heat source or electric device. He also cautioned they should never use a sparking toy, an open flame such as a match or lighter, a fireplace or stove, smoking materials or any other device fueled by gas, kerosene, wood or coal where medical oxygen is in use.
“There is no safe way to smoke when medical oxygen is in use in the home,” he said.