Last week a 69-year-old man, Sheldon Bare, and his 15-year-old grandson, Ryan Bare, were both fatally injured in an apartment fire in Altoona, PA, believed to be caused by a marijuana pipe.
Local NBC affiliate KHQ.com reported that the elder Bare had been smoking the pipe and left it in the living room. Improperly discarded cigarettes are known to be one of the leading causes of fire deaths in this country.
Proponents of recreational and medicinal marijuana use have long touted the statistical evidence that supports the notion weed is a relatively harmless drug. It may be possible to overdose on, but no one has ever been reported to up to this point in history.
In most cases, smokers may experience hunger or become tired, and over time they can develop a raspy cough. House fires, however, are a side effect that most don’t consider in a conversation about cannabis usage.
Sheldon Bare was a disabled Vietnam War veteran. His sister, Holly Spatafora, believed that he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of the things he witnessed during the conflict. She claims that her brother probably turned to marijuana as a way to self-medicate.
“The man that came home was no longer my brother,” Spatafora said. “He was just never happy again. He was one of the walking wounded.”
Firefighters and first-responders were quick to the scene around 3:30 a.m. when the call was made, but sadly it was to late.
Local Fire Chief Tim Hileman summarized the mix of emotions telling local CBS affiliate WTAJ, “These people really do put themselves out to try to help, and unfortunately, the outcome’s not always what we want.”