Investigators are probing whether oxygen tanks, among other possible causes, may have started a fire at an adult care home that killed one person and put more than a dozen in the hospital, authorities said Tuesday.
Citing the oxygen tanks used by some residents of Davie Place Residential Care, officials said “an explosion could have happened” and ignited the blaze late Monday night.
“Until the investigation is finished, we haven’t ruled out anything,” assistant Davie County manager Beth Dirks said at a news conference. “We are in the final stages of the investigation.”
Investigators don’t believe the blaze was arson, she said. Results of the investigation are expected Wednesday.
George Minor of Mocksville was killed in the blaze, Dirks said. Four patients were in critical condition at a Winston-Salem hospital. Some of the 15 other patients who had been hospitalized were released, but Dirks said she didn’t know the number.
Fire inspection records at the home, about 25 miles southwest of Winston-Salem, are up to date, said Dirks, adding that she didn’t know of any problems.
The fire was reported as an explosion just after 10 p.m. Monday in an older wing of the house that didn’t have sprinklers, said William Whaley, director of facilities management in Davie County. The wing was constructed before building codes required sprinklers and therefore didn’t violate current codes, he said.
Fire scorched the front wing of the one-story brick home and left holes in the roof, exposing burned furniture and mangled metal.
Daniel Tuttle, the home’s owner, didn’t return a telephone message left at his office, but in a written statement thanked emergency workers for responding quickly.