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Hand sanitizer sparked fire that severely burned girl’s face

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A common household product is blamed for sparking danger in a hospital and now raises concerns if it could happen elsewhere.

A young Oregon girl suffered second- and third-degree burns after a combination of hand sanitizer, olive oil and static electricity sparked a fire.

A photo captures the shy smile and burn bandages on Ireland Lane’s chest and arms.

"I heard, "Fire. I'm burning.’ When I stood up, she ran out the door, toward the nurse’s station," says Ireland’s dad, Stephen Lane.

Doctors at Oregon Health & Science University’s Doernbecher Children’s Hospital were treating the 11-year-old former cancer patient who had collapsed at school and hit her head.

"Thinking back on it now, it's horrible I can't get it out of my mind now," says the dad.

Ironically, what was supposed to protect her is suspected of hurting her.

Fire investigators say a mixture of Avagard D hand sanitizer and olive oil on her hair and t-shirt got ignited by static electricity Ireland created by playing with her bedding.

"Hand sanitizer is a significant portion of alcohol, anywhere from 60-70%," says Dr. Rafer Leach of Guardian Urgent Care in Denver.

Dr. Leach says the fire makes sense because of the sanitizer’s high flammability, but he suspects it was a fluke.

"This situation seemed to be a perfect storm," he says.

And he believes the risk of fire is extremely low, especially after it dries.

"What I worry about here, MRSA, some of the resistant bacteria, flu, norovirus. I'd rather kill those viruses than take risk of this flaming," he says.

"I'm a nurse. My kids have it in their backpack," laughs Lacey Kneen, visiting Guardian Urgent Care because of a sick 10-month-old.

The mother of two says she won’t change her kids’ hygiene habits.

"I'm a bit of “germ-a-phobe” when it comes to things like that. Kids hands are dirty. They don't always wash them. So it's convenient to have it in the backpack," she says.

Ireland had olive oil on her because it’s used to remove the glue from some EEG exams.

The hospital says it will now stop using olive oil.

People can also use non-alcoholic hand sanitizers, but Dr. Leach says they’re not as effective as alcohol-based ones.

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