Hertfordshire’s chief fire officer has moved to reassure the public that oxygen remains safe to use in care homes following a fire in Stevenage in which a man died.

The Comet: Chief Fire Officer Darryl Keen. Picture: Harry HubbardChief Fire Officer Darryl Keen. Picture: Harry Hubbard (Image: Archant)

Early investigations into the fire at Woodlands View Care Home, off Magpie Crescent, indicate the involvement of an oxygen cylinder in the room of the man who died, who was in his 80s.

But Chief Fire Officer Darryl Keen, who is also Herts County Council’s director of community protection, today said such oxygen cylinders remained safe.

He said: “We would like to reassure members of the public that there are no indications that suggest a change should be made to the way oxygen is used in care homes or in other residential premises, and so users should continue to handle and use oxygen in accordance with the instructions of the supplier.

“Early indications do point towards some involvement of an oxygen cylinder which was within the room of the gentleman who sadly lost his life – however, forensic examinations currently taking place will need to be concluded before it will be possible to confirm the extent of its involvement.

“Hertfordshire County Council Adult Social Care services continue to work closely with the care home provider, HC-One, to ensure the welfare of residents affected by the fire. Our team are in constant communication with them and their relatives to give them the latest information.

“The joint response from all the emergency services and staff at the home during the incident was commendable, and the close working relationship continues during the investigation into the cause of the fire, which is still ongoing.

“Our thoughts remain with all those affected by this tragic incident.”

Six other people were hospitalised after the fire at the care home, which happened at about 4.30pm on Saturday, February 3. There were 41 people in the care home at the time, including staff and visitors.

The fire was largely contained to one room, but there was a lot of smoke – which made it difficult for some people to get out. Firefighters rescued five people and helped another 10 from the building.

Those injured included the late man’s partner, who is now in a stable condition at Stevenage’s Lister Hospital after being in a critical condition following the fire.