Courtesy ABC News
An 11-year-old cancer survivor who was hospitalized with a head injury is now recovering from third-degree burns after her shirt mysteriously caught fire in a Portland, Ore., hospital room.
The girl, Ireland Lane, had been painting in her room at Doernbecher Children's Hospital, ABC affiliate KATU reported. Moments later, she ran into the hallway screaming, with her T-shirt aflame.
"I've been in medicine going back 30 years now and never heard anything like this. And hopefully I never will again," Dr. Stacy Nicholson, assistant chief at Doernbecher Children's Hospital, told KATU.
Doernbecher did not immediately respond to ABC News' requests for comment.
Hospital staff extinguished the flames, but the cause of the fire remains a mystery. Ireland said she used hand sanitizer to clean a table that rolled over her bed, where she had painted a wooden box as a gift for her nurses, the Oregonian reported. Officials are investigating whether the alcohol-based sanitizer and static electricity could have sparked the fire, a spokesman for the Oregon State Fire Marshal told ABCNews.com.
Ireland, who is a cancer survivor, had been hospitalized for an unrelated head injury. She was due to leave the hospital the day of the fire, Feb. 2. Instead, she is undergoing treatment for third-degree burns on her chest, neck, arms and earlobes at Legacy Oregon Burn Center, the Oregonian reported. She is listed in serious condition and scheduled to undergo a second skin graft Thursday – her 12th birthday.
"She's quite a tough one," the girl's father, Stephen Lane of Klamath Falls, Ore., told the Oregonian. "She's been through more than any child I've ever heard of, and to still walk around with a smile on her face and enjoy the things of the day that are going on, and be a kid is to me pretty amazing."
Lane said his daughter "still has bad dreams," but doesn't remember the fire. He, on the other hand, can't get it out of his head. He was sleeping in Ireland's hospital room when the fire erupted and followed his frantic daughter into the hallway, where he smothered the flames with his body, according to the Oregonian.
"I can handle all of it — I'm a dad and I'm supposed to," he told the paper. "But I hate seeing her unhappy stuck in a hospital again."