Nanaimo man burned in smoking mishap

NANAIMO – Apartment tenant discovers smoking and oxygen are a bad combination.

Firefighters raced to an apartment complex in Nanaimo’s hospital district this morning after an emergency call came in reporting a tenant’s oxygen tank had exploded.

The incident happened at Waverley Manor on the 1600 block of Boundary Crescent, shortly before 9 a.m. when a passerby saw a bright flash and pulled the building’s fire alarm.

Firefighters arrived to find the building’s residents in full evacuation, but no fire and no damage to the building.

“It turned out the oxygen tank hadn’t exploded,” said Karen Lindsay, Nanaimo Emergency Services coordinator.

The flash witnessed by the passerby was instead the result of a man’s decision to light up a cigarette while wearing a nasal oxygen cannula, which he had apparently forgotten to remove before lighting up.

“Whoever witnessed it thought it had exploded, but what happens is the oxygen makes the cigarette burn more intensely,” Lindsay said.

The victim was taken to hospital with reportedly minor burns to his mouth and nose.