News | Oregon

Fire Marshal: Olive Oil, Hand Sanitizer, Static Electricity Led To Girl's Burns

OPB | Feb. 20, 2013 5:29 p.m. | Updated: Feb. 21, 2013 9:07 a.m. | Portland

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The Oregon State Fire Marshal says a rare mixture of hand sanitizer, static electricity and olive oil was to blame for the fire that burned an 11-year-old during her stay at OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital earlier this month.

Investigating Fire Marshal Daniel Jones says Ireland Lane had been cleaning up an art project with the sanitizer, while at the same time olive oil had dripped on her clothes. The oil was used to remove electrodes that had been glued to her head for a test.

Jones explained, “We found that given the mixture of the olive oil and the hand sanitizer on the cotton shirt, it was like a candle wick that was easily ignited by the static that was in the bedding and the clothing in her room.”

Jones said Lane and other family members had been generating static electricity for fun, by scuffing their feet and rubbing the bed linen. The girl continues to receive care at the Legacy Oregon Burn Center.

Doernbecher says the hospital will continue to use alcohol-based sanitizer, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But the hospital will no longer use olive oil to remove electrode glue.

The hospital is also reviewing the fire marshal’s recommendation that the fire alarm should have been activated and patients evacuated. No alarm was sounded and no sprinklers were activated.

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