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Fatal Fire Ignites In VA Hospital Room

CHICAGO -- A 56-year-old man died early Monday after catching fire as he smoked a cigarette while breathing from an oxygen tank in the west suburb of Hines.

Jerome Saarines, of 1800 Ottawa Ave. in Ottawa, was pronounced dead at 3:37 a.m. at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, a Cook County Medical Examiner's Office spokesman said.

According to hospital staff, the man was smoking in his room at the Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital in Hines while also breathing air from an oxygen tank, Broadview fire Capt. Ned Thoma said.

The exact cause of the blaze is still under investigation, but apparently the burning cigarette set fire to the oxygen at around 4:43 p.m. Sunday, burning the man and causing a significant amount of damage to the room, Thoma said.


Paramedics quickly took the man to the hospital emergency room, and then transferred him to Loyola, Thoma said. Two other patients in the same hospital room were not harmed, he added.


Additional information about the victim was not available, Thoma said.


A damage estimate was not immediately available because of the amount of medical equipment in the room and the difficulty of determining the equipment's value

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