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Tealight danger warning following double inquest

Posted on 20 January 2023

The cause of a double fatal fire on Whittier Road, Sneinton, has been ruled as accidental ignition by Ms Fiona Gingell, Assistant Coroner for Nottinghamshire.

The inquest finished yesterday (Thursday 19 January), with the court hearing how Mr Paul Cox (51) and Ms Jennifer Batterbee (40) died from smoke inhalation, after a tealight set fire to a sofa in their front room.

The incident took place on 26 March 2022, when Paul and Jennifer were pronounced dead in Paul’s home in Sneinton.

Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service was alerted to the incident at 12:42am by the couple’s neighbour, who called 999 after hearing noises and seeing an amber glow from the property. Firefighters arrived on scene to a well-developed fire and immediately entered the mid-terraced house wearing breathing apparatus. They found Paul and Jennifer inside.

Ms Gingell said in her closing statement that “the most probable cause of the fire is accidental ignition to the arm of the sofa in the front room of the property. Ignition was most likely a naked flame from a tealight. This was a tragic incident, and I am satisfied that there are no suspicious circumstances.

She added “I wish to extend my sincerest condolences to Paul and Jennifer’s family and friends. I know they will both be greatly missed.”

Station Manager Tom Clark, lead fire investigator for the incident, said: “On arrival this fire was incredibly intense, and my thanks go out to the crews and control room staff involved.

“We know candles are used in most homes, but I would urge everyone to remember the dangers they present. Take care to ensure that they are in correct holders, on a stable base, and kept away from anything that could catch fire. Never leave a naked flame unattended.

“Everyone at Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service would like to offer our sincere condolences to Mr Cox and Ms Batterbee’s families for their sad loss.”

To arrange a free Safe and Well Visit for yourself, your family, or your neighbour, visit www.notts-fire.gov.uk.