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Official: Cigarettes, oxygen tanks sparked fatal blaze

Mon., July 18, 2011, 4:24 p.m.

A woman killed in a fire at her northeast Spokane home died of smoke in inhalation after a cigarette ignited her oxygen tanks, fire officials said Monday.

Inez L. Williams, 67, had oxygen flowing when fire consumed her home at 4128 E. Princeton Ave. Friday about 2 p.m., said Brian Schaeffer, assistant fire chief.

Fire officials ruled the accidental fire was caused by “careless smoking” with medical oxygen, Schaeffer said.

Firefighters fought through heavy flames and smoke and were hit with fragments from pressured oxygen tanks exploding in the blaze, which also killed several dogs and cats.

“They all truly did everything they could to reach her,” Schaeffer said, but the blaze was not survivable.

“The story is all too familiar and just as tragic,” he said. This fatality and all of the other ones where a fire is responsible for someone dying in a residence is preventable by installing working sprinkler systems combined with alerting systems (smoke detectors).”

Friends and family described Williams as an animal lover who had lived at the property for decades.

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