Coroner's report urges organisations to work with fire service to prevent deaths
12:04pm Wednesday 2nd October 2013 in News
PEMBROKESHIRE Coroner Mark Layton is to issue a report urging organisations which work with vulnerable people to share information with the fire service, after an 84-year-old woman died in a Pembroke Dock house fire.
Betty Payne, of Munro Court, was “burnt beyond recognition” in the fire on July 16 and she was identified from her wrist watch, an inquest last Thursday (September 26) heard.
According to witnesses, Miss Payne was a heavy smoker, who discarding ash and cigarette butts carelessly, burnt holes in her clothes, and had set her hair on fire with a cigarette.
Dyfed-Powys Police coroner’s officer for Pembrokeshire Jeremy Davies said the pensioner lived alone, she had never married nor had any children.
On July 16, Miss Payne was visited by a neighbour, her gardener and a carer. At around 4pm a man saw smoke coming from the house and dialled 999.
Fire station manager Ryland Williams told the inquest a smoke alarm could be heard in the background during a call from the property – thought to be Miss Payne - at 4.02pm.
The passerby called at 4.06pm, when the property was “well alight”, and the fire service attended at 4.09pm. Miss Payne’s body was found at 4.15pm.
A fire service investigation concluded a cigarette started the fire near an old fashioned arm chair, surrounded by newspapers, junk mail and recycling.
Mr Williams said the fire service had made “considerable progress” in promoting fire safety, but “many vulnerable house holders may remain unidentified” and become “victims of fire”.
He added: “This incident was a tragic accident and the prevention of further occurrences requires more communication between various agencies.”
Community safety manager Sion Slaymaker said home fire safety checks, in which free smoke detectors, fire proof bedding and specialist equipment, were vital.
Recording a verdict of accidental death, Mr Layton said: “The fire started, almost certainly, from a cigarette and spread out of control.”
He will release a report suggesting an improvement in information sharing where possible and for staff who work with vulnerable people to be trained in fire safety.
For more information on home fire safety checks go to www.mawwfire.gov.uk.
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