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Portable oxygen tanks caused deadly and damaging fires in Tennessee in recent years, spurring a warning from the state fire marshal.

In the past five years, fire departments across the state reported 18 fires involving medical oxygen equipment. Of those, seven were fatal and property damage totaled more than $700,000.

Oxygen tanks have become more common, and they can add oxygen to parts of homes that can cause fires to burn with more heat and speed, said Fire Marshal and Commerce & Insurance Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak.

State numbers showed that smoking most often provided the heat source related oxygen tank fires.

The fire marshal said Tennesseans who use medical oxygen should not smoke and that oxygen cylinders should be kept away from heat sources, oils and grease and aerosol spray cans, and that candles, matches, wood stoves and sparking toys can ignite fires.

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