The Lookout

Hand sanitizer possible cause of freak fire that injured 11-year-old girl

The Lookout

Could hand sanitizer light a T-shirt on fire?

Officials in Oregon are researching a possible link between the cleanser and a mysterious blaze that ignited an 11-year-old girl’s T-shirt during a hospital stay. The girl is now scheduled for skin grafts to treat her injuries.

First reported by Oregon Live, Ireland Lane, a cancer survivor, was staying at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital for an unrelated head injury. While playing in her bed on the day she was to leave the hospital, she suddenly ran screaming from the room, her T-shirt ablaze.

Her dad, Stephen Lane, who had dozed off nearby, ran after his daughter and smothered the flames himself. According to the Oregon Live story, Ireland suffered from third-degree burns.

According to Oregon Live, investigators have speculated that the freak occurrence might have happened as the girl was using the wall-mounted hand sanitizer to clean her art project, a painting. The 3M product, supplied by the hospital, contains 61 percent alcohol, and might have interacted with static electricity from the hospital bedding—static electricity her father says he remembers Ireland trying to cause.

"I've been in medicine going back 30 years now and never heard anything like this. And hopefully I never will again," Dr. Stacy Nicholson, assistant chief at Doernbecher Children's Hospital, told local station KATU.

Contacted by Yahoo News, Rich Hoover, the community liaison for the Oregon office of the state fire marshal, wrote in an email, “We are still investigating the incident. We have a deputy state fire marshal working on gathering the facts.” He added that the office is hoping that the preliminary investigation will be done by today or Wednesday.

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