Fire that burned girl in Portland hospital blamed on sanitizer, olive oil

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by KGW Staff

NWCN.com

Posted on February 20, 2013 at 5:33 PM

PORTLAND -- The fire that burned a young patient earlier this month at Doernbecher Children's Hospital was caused by hand sanitizer, combined with olive oil that was ignited by static electricity, investigators said Wednesday.

"She was wiping the bedside table clean from an art project, using hand sanitizer. Her shirt had olive oil on it," lead investigator Dan Jones explained.  "It was like a candle wick that was easily ignited by the static that was in the bedding and clothing in her room."

He added that this was an "extremely unusual event" that could have happened at any health care facility across the nation.

The hand sanitizer was alcohol-based and supplied by the hospital.  The olive oil was all over her cotton shirt and hair. The unlikely combination helped the fire spread quickly across the front of her body, investigators said.

Girl suffered 2nd- and 3rd-degree burns

Doctors at Oregon Health and Science University have been treating 11-year-old Ireland Lane after she caught fire in her Doernbecher hospital bed on February 2, as first reported in the Oregonian.

Ireland was reportedly making crafts for the nurses in her bed, when she caught fire and then suddenly ran into the hallway engulfed in flames.

Her father, Stephen Lane, was asleep in the room at the time. Ireland's screams woke him up and he ran into the hallway and jumped on his daughter to smother the flames.

"I remember being scared at first," Lane said of seeing his daughter on fire, "My hard memories are of putting her out. It's hard to see your child hurt at all, but to be on fire and screaming, you know and then crying, 'help me!"

Ireland was being treated at Doernbecher because she fell and hit her head at her Klamath Falls home. She is also a cancer survivor.

"That this would happen anywhere, much less our hospital, was just awful," said Stacy Nicholson, M.D. of Doernbecher Children's Hospital. "Our hearts go out to the child and her family."

Hospital officials said the olive oil was on Ireland's shirt and head because it had been used to remove adhesive from an EEG exam.  Doernbecher said it would no longer use olive oil in this way, as a precaution.

In the meantime, Ireland has a long recovery ahead.

She suffered third-degree burns to 18 percent of her body. Doctors at Legacy Emanuel Burn Center were treating her.

Ireland's mom Danielle is confident that she will be okay.

"She has her faith," she said.

(KGW Reporter Mark Hanrahan contributed to this report)

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