Neighbors react after Lake Lotawana house fire critically injures man

LAKE LOTAWANA, Mo. -- A man is critically injured, and six others escape after a devastating house fire in Lake Lotawana.

Fire Chief Bill Large says the cause is believed to be smoking while on an in-home oxygen tank. FOX4's Sherae Honeycutt was first on the scene, and spoke with neighbors as firefighters worked through the day to put the blaze out.

"Little bit of terror when I walked out and heard a woosh and the smoke just barreling over the top of the house," neighbor, Greg Jacobson said.

"Flashing lights, and smoke, and then I walked across the yard closer and saw just nothing left but the chimney," neighbor, Jennifer Pinkston said.

Chief Large said the call came in around nine a.m., but when first responders arrived within just a few minutes, it was too late to save the home.

"It's pretty devastating," Chief Large said. "It's a major loss, and obviously, possibly going to be a death involved, so it plays emotionally."

Large says six people, believed to be adults, were upstairs and a man who was critically injured with second degree burns was on the first floor.

"They heard a loud noise on the second floor," Chief Large said. "They weren't sure if it was a smoke detector. Something set them off. They came down to the first floor to see what was going on. They found the victim on the couch on fire, and his oxygen tubing and everything was on fire at the time."

Neighbors say they are keeping the family in their thoughts, and are stunned by how quickly the fire went out of control.

"It's very sad to think about that, and just the dangers that are around the corner sometimes," Pinkston said. "You never know what's going to happen."

"Just a really sad and scary situation," Jacobson said. "I don't know all the details, of course, and I didn't know the family at all, but from the sounds of it - it was a close call for quite a few people."

Chief Large says he hopes this is a reminder for citizens about the dangers of fire and oxygen.

"Oxygen is flammable," Chief Large said. "Unfortunate accidents like this happen. Everybody does it, but this is the result of smoking on home oxygen. It's not a good idea."

Originally another person hurt in the fire denied medical treatment, but was admitted later to a local hospital. The critically injured man remains in the burn unit undergoing care.

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