A girl who mysteriously caught fire while in the hospital for a head injury is making headlines this week, although the incident happened earlier this month.
Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland, Oregon held a press conference this week wherein they talked about 11-year old Ireland Lane, who suffered third-degree burns on a large portion of her body after her shirt mysteriously ignited in her hospital room. She jumped out of bed and ran from the room, where her father reportedly smothered the flames. Unfortunately, the fire caused serious injury to the girl, burning her chest, neck, arms, and earlobes on the very day she was to be released from the hospital. She is, however, expected to recover and is undergoing skin grafts to repair the damage.
Officials say they are investigating whether Ireland’s use of hand sanitizer to clean off a rolling bedside table–on which she had been painting a wooden box as a departing gift for her nurses–paired with static electricity to ignite a spark.
Amazingly, Ireland is also a cancer survivor. Her father says he is overwhelmed by how strong his daughter is.
“She’s quite a tough one. She’s been through more than any child I’ve ever heard of, and to still walk around with a smile on her face and enjoy the things of the day that are going on, and be a kid is to me pretty amazing,” Stephen Lane said.
This isn’t the first time hand sanitizer has been blamed for igniting flames, but investigators say they’ve never heard of the alcohol-based product causing a fire of this magnitude. There has been speculation that Ireland may have used a large amount of the sanitizer and then wiped her hands on her shirt before it was dry. Stephen Lane worries that more people don’t understand the risks of using similar products.
“As readily available as hand sanitizer is nowadays, and how everybody sends it to school with their kids, it makes me much more worried,” he said.
3M, the company that makes the brand of sanitizer used at the hospital, doesn’t want customers to worry.
“When used as directed, it is entirely safe,” said spokeswoman Donna Fleming Runyon.