Fire death blamed on smoking while on oxygen
A blaze that killed a South Elgin man likely started as he smoked while using an oxygen tank to breathe, authorities said today.
Edwin C. Kudsk, 73, died from inhaling lethal levels of carbon monoxide as his living room filled with smoke and soot in the Jan. 11 fire at his home in the 600 block of Kenilworth Avenue, according to testimony at a Kane County Coroner’s inquest.
Suffering from lung cancer, diabetes and heart disease, Kudsk used a walker. Firefighters found him lying near the front door. They initially were unable to enter the home because of flames and exploding oxygen tanks inside, South Elgin police Detective Anthony Martinez said.
“It appeared he was trying to attempt to get out,” Martinez told jurors, who ruled Kudsk’s death an accident.
Kudsk’s wife, Rose, told investigators her husband had taken pain medication and planned to sleep in a reclining chair in the living room. She was in the bedroom when she awoke about 4 a.m. to screams and saw the fire.
Rose Kudsk said she couldn’t reach her husband. She tried to extinguish the flames with water from the kitchen sink and then ran outside the duplex and banged on her neighbor’s door, Martinez said.
Rose Kudsk and her neighbors escaped without injury.
Firefighters said they found no signs of faulty wiring in the home or problems with the oxygen tanks.
The blaze appeared to originate in the chair where Kudsk sat, and an ashtray full of cigarette butts was found nearby, Coroner Chuck West said, adding investigators think the man was smoking when the fire started.
Okay, let’s go over this one more time: Oxygen is a highly flammable gas. It is so flammable that there are WARNING LABELS on oxygen tanks that state that one should NEVER smoke or expose the oxygen tank to open flame. Why? Because the