Virginia Beach woman dies after smoking accident

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VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Fire officials say an elderly woman in Virginia Beach died from burn injuries after accidentally lighting herself on fire Friday evening.

Around 6 p.m., Virginia Beach fire crews were dispatched to a house fire in the 2500 block of Bayview Avenue. When they arrived, firefighters found the flames were confined to an 83-year-old woman’s clothing and her master bedroom, according to Battalion Chief Amy Valdez with the Virginia Beach Fire Department.

The woman suffered burns to 35 percent of her body, as well as injuries to her respiratory tract, Valdez said. She was transported to Little Creek Base where she was airlifted by Nightingale to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital’s Burn Trauma Unit. However, her injuries caused her death in less than 24 hours.

Fire investigators confirmed the fire was accidental — the victim had inadvertently set her clothes on fire with a cigarette and lighter and was unable to extinguish the flames.

Valdez said this is the third fire fatality for the city in 2014, and the department has noticed an increase in fire deaths since 2012.

“According to the US Fire Administration, older adults continue to experience a disproportionate share of fire deaths,” Valdez said in a press release. “In 2010, older adults (age 65 or older) represented 13 percent of the United States population but suffered 35 percent of all fire deaths.”

To schedule a fire safety presentation or request a home visit, call the Virginia Beach Fire Department at 757-385-2875 or email karnold@vbgov.com. 

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