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ZEBULON — A southern Nash County woman died last week in a house fire ignited when she smoked a cigarette while using an oxygen tank.
Belinda Coble, 61, died Dec. 3 at her home on Crowned Court, which has a Zebulon address and is in Nash County about halfway between Middlesex and Zebulon.
The Nash County Sheriff’s Office, Nash County EMS and the Middlesex Fire Department responded to a call of a house fire around 8 a.m., said Sheriff’s Capt. Eddie Moore.
Coble, who used an oxygen tank for medical issues, was smoking a cigarette that ignited the oxygen tank, causing a small explosion and fire, Moore said.
“The husband, who was asleep in another room, awoke to the sound of the smoke detector going off,” Moore said. “He went and was able to extinguish the small fire that had started with a fire extinguisher causing minimal property damage.”
The husband then called 911.
Deputies, firefighters and emergency workers arrived at the home before 8 a.m. to find Coble dead at the scene.
Each year in the U.S., there are more than 180 house fires involving oxygen therapy equipment, according to Richard Radford, managing director of BPR Medical Gas Control.
“The most important thing you can do to reduce the risk of a fire when using home oxygen, is to not smoke,” Radford said. “If you are finding it hard to give up smoking, there are many in ways in which your health care providers can support you, such as nicotine replacement therapy. Your relatives, visitors, carers or neighbors should also be told to not smoke in your house.”