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Addingham fire victim 'refused smoke alarm offer’
A bedridden pensioner who died in a fire after dropping a cigarette when she fell asleep might have been saved had she agreed to have an extra smoke alarm fitted and flame-retardant bedding, an inquest heard.
Bradford assistant deputy coroner Roger Whittaker said lessons could be learned from 90-year-old Nelly Carr’s death at her home in High Mill Lane, Addingham, in March 2011.
Yesterday’s inquest heard Mrs Carr, a heavy smoker, had four smoke alarms fitted by firefighters in 2008 after a home safety check but in 2010, during a similar visit, had turned down the offer to get a detector fitted in her bedroom and free fire-retardant bedding.
The inquest heard Mrs Carr’s mattress had been “completely consumed” by fire and she was found by firefighters collapsed on the floor between the bed and the door, which was shut.
Mrs Carr’s neighbour Mike Whiteley and a police officer were the first on the scene and tried to rescue her but were beaten back by the heat and smoke.
Commenting on their bravery, Mr Whittaker said: “I commend both of them for doing what was a dangerous job trying to find Mrs Carr without the benefit of breathing apparatus.”
Fire investigator Garry Asquith said: “It’s possible an alarm in the bedroom might have saved her life by giving her the chance to wake and ring 999. If she’d allowed us to help, it might have made a difference.”
He said the fire could have been smouldering for up to four hours first. It had got so hot in the bedroom that wallpaper had melted.
Mrs Carr, who lived alone and had home care visits three times a day, was last seen by her carers at 7pm on March 8. Just before 4am the next day her neighbour woke smelling smoke.
Mrs Carr had heart disease and breathing problems. A post mortem showed she had died from inhaling smoke.
Recording a verdict of accidental death, Mr Whittaker said Mrs Carr declining the offer of help “amplified the tragedy of the case” and he said to Mr Asquith: “I hope you will now be contacted for advice and help by people anxious to prevent similar fires.”