Smoking near oxygen tank cause of Holden fire

Posted Oct. 08, 2010, at 11:46 a.m.

HOLDEN, Maine — An investigation by the State Fire Marshal’s Office has determined the cause of a fire Thursday afternoon in which an elderly woman was burned.

The fire was accidental in nature and was the result of smoking too close to an oxygen tank, Sgt. Tim York said Friday.

Thelma Sweet, 80, was taken to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor for treatment of burns she suffered in the fire, York said.

Sweet was listed in fair condition on Friday, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Fire Chief Jim Ellis said Thursday that the fire at Holden Square Apartments, a 24-unit housing complex for elderly and disabled residents, began shortly before 1 p.m. in the living room of Sweet’s apartment, located on the second floor of the back side of the complex.

The fire was extinguished quickly and contained to the woman’s living room, Ellis said.

Residents, however, were not allowed to re-enter the complex for about 3½ hours because firefighters found four or five hand grenades on a window sill inside one of the apartments while searching the complex to make sure everyone had escaped safely.

Ellis said the Bangor Police Department’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal Team was called in about 2 p.m. as a precaution. After examining the grenades and interviewing their owner, bomb squad members determined the devices were inert, he said.

Holden firefighters were assisted by members of the Eddington, Brewer, Orrington and Dedham fire departments, Ellis said.

Residents, however, were not allowed to re-enter the complex for about 3 and a half hours because firefighters found four or five hand grenades on a window sill inside one of the apartments while searching the complex to make sure everyone had escaped safely.

Ellis said the Bangor Police Department’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal Team was called in about 2 p.m. as a precaution. After examining the grenades and interviewing their owner, bomb squad members determined the devices were inert, he said.

Holden firefighters were assisted by members of the Eddington, Brewer, Orrington and Dedham fire departments, Ellis said.

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