Girl catches fire in hospital room: 'I woke up to fire'

Girl catches fire in hospital room: 'I woke up to fire' »Play Video
Ireland Lane (photo courtesy Steve Lane)

PORTLAND, Ore. – A just 11 years old, Ireland Lane has spent plenty of time in a hospital room. She had already survived cancer and was back in the hospital to treat a head injury when bad luck struck again earlier this month.

Ireland was cleaning up with hand sanitizer in her hospital room at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital on February 2 when she suddenly caught fire.

Her father, Steve Lane, was napping in the room when he woke up to his daughter saying she was burning.

“I told the nurses I’d take a nap because I was up with her all night. I woke up to fire.” Steve said. “All I saw was the back end of her going out the door and I was right behind her. Nurses had her down, trying to put her out. One yelled ‘put a fire blanket over her.’ I laid across her back and put the fire out.”

Steve said he ripped off a rubber decal on his daughter’s shirt that was melting as the nurses rushed to treat her. She suffered burns from her neck down to her stomach and also on her arms.

The fire marshal is still investigating how the fire started. It’s possible the hand sanitizer, which is flammable, played a role, although fires with sanitizer are incredibly rare.

“They couldn’t find any sources,” Steve said. “No machinery, I’ve never smoked, no lighters, matches, nothing that would cause fire.”

Steve said his daughter just recently learned about static electricity and at one point was goofing around with the sheets watching the sparks when she touched something.

"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, said on Sunday evening.

Ireland had been cleaning up after an art project when the fire started. It was the day she was supposed to be discharged and she was making a box as a thank you gift for her nurses. She used the hand sanitizer to clean the table.

She frequently used hand sanitizer ever since being diagnosed with cancer. Her cancer is currently in remission.

Ireland has had one skin graft since suffering the burns. She will have a second on her 12th birthday this coming Thursday. She’ll likely have scars, but otherwise is expected to make a full recovery from the burns.

Her father praised the hospital staff for their quick reaction. He said despite everything that has happened to her, Ireland remains upbeat.

“She’s still happy – a kid smiling and playing,” Steve said. “She takes everything so well.”