Bed-ridden smoker starts fatal house fire

Firefighters are reminding people not to smoke in bed after a residential structure fire near Santa Rosa turned fatal Saturday night.

Firefighters were dispatched to an address in the 3300 block of Fulton Road, in the Fulton area of unincorporated Sonoma County, at 10:42 p.m.

Arriving crews found a single-family residence with a smoldering fire, and neighbors said that a bed-ridden senior citizen lived at the home.

After making entry, they found 82-year-old Richard Hance on a hospital bed in the living room, according to firefighters. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The fire was under control by 11 p.m.

Smoke alarms had been installed in the home, but they were not working as the batteries had been removed, according to firefighters.

Investigators determined that the fire was accidental, and had been caused by Hance smoking in bed while using oxygen. The incident resulted in an estimated $75,000 in damage to the structure.

Firefighters are reminding the public never to smoke in bed, and never allow smoking materials to be used in a home where oxygen is in use.