Posted on July 5, 2012 at 2:17 PM
HOUSTON—A woman, who was smoking while her oxygen tank was in use, died after her northeast Harris County home went up in flames late Wednesday, according to the Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office.
The Eastex Fire Department arrived to find heavy smoke and flames shooting through the roof of a small, wooden-framed home in the 14300 block of Rawlings Drive around 10:45 p.m.
Firefighters made a fast attack, then entered to find a 65-year-old woman deceased in the home.
The woman’s husband had gone to the store and came back home to find the house fully engulfed in flames. Neighbors described the panicked moments when he asked for help.
“Mr. Gann came up, knocked on the door, rang the doorbell, and I went to the door, and he told me to call 911 because his house was on fire and his wife was inside,” said Jessie Barber. ”So I ran to the phone, he came back over to the house, and I went to the phone and started calling 911.”
Barber said it seemed, to her, that help did not come fast enough.
The husband tried to go in and save his wife, but the oxygen tank had exploded. That is what led to her death, according to officials.
“Our investigation found that the fire was started from the deceased smoking while oxygen was in use,” said Lt. Gustavo Lopez, Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office.
The woman’s identity is being withheld, pending verification by the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences.
Neighbors said the family had nine cats, a bird and a dog. Most of the animals perished in the fire.