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Florida man causes hospital fire by smoking crack while hooked to oxygen

Lee Vern Cook faces charges of arson, drug possession and possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony.

By
Fred Lambert

CRESTVIEW, Fla., Dec. 27 (UPI) -- A Florida man was arrested for smoking crack cocaine with his hospitalized friend, causing a small fire in an intensive care unit where the patient was located, police say.

Lee Vern Cook, 54, was arrested Christmas Eve on multiple charges, including arson, five counts of possession of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony.

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Cook is accused of visiting a bed-ridden friend in the North Okaloosa Medical Center Intensive Care Unit, bringing with him crack cocaine, a pipe from which to smoke the drug and a firearm. The two smoked the cocaine together from a homemade device, police say, but the patient wore an oxygen mask and the flame from lighting the pipe mixed with the gas to rapidly cause a fire.

Burn damage was limited to bed linens, the patient's gown and the oxygen mask itself. The patient suffered injuries and was transferred to a burn unit, but the hospital was not evacuated. Cook suffered burns to his hands and was evaluated before being taken to jail.

According to police, Cook admitted to bringing the drugs as well as the loaded firearm into the hospital. He showed authorities where he had hidden the gun in a bathroom before being taken to Okaloosa County Jail.

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