A fire which caused the death of a Carlton woman was most likely caused by a damaged flex of a fridge freezer, an inquest heard yesterday (Tuesday 5 June).
HM Coroner for Nottinghamshire Ms Mairin Casey, found that Ms Anita Hanks, 33, of Walton Court in Carlton, had died from inhaling fire gasses following the fire at her home on 2 October 2017.
Ms Hanks had returned home from a friend’s neighbouring flat during the early hours, before the fire, and friends alerted the fire service when they became aware of a fire in her flat later that morning.
Crews from Arnold, Carlton and Stockhill arrived to find that the fire had self-extinguished, and found significant damage to the fridge freezer, which is believed to be where the fire originated.
The court heard that the appliance was not subject to any recall notices and an independent forensic examination commissioned by the manufacturer found that there were no technical faults with the fridge freezer.
In what Ms Casey described as ‘an incredibly rare set of circumstances’, it is believed that the freezer’s ‘flex cable’ had become damaged at some point, either when the appliance was moved or had become trapped underneath the appliance.
Returning her narrative conclusion, Ms Casey, said Ms Hanks was overcome by fumes.
“The situation that led to this was most likely to have been developing over a period of time and we cannot be fully sure how the cable became damaged. I am satisfied following such a detailed examination of the appliance that there were no technical problems, and I would like to thank the manufacturers for their assistance with the investigation.
“I would like to express my most sincere condolences to the family and friends of Ms Hanks and I would like to recognise the bravery and courage of her friends who, when they found out she was in trouble and that her flat was on fire, did everything they could to try to save her.”
Following the inquest, Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS) would like to highlight the need to correctly install appliances and to follow manufacturer’s guidelines.
Ian Tomlin, Fire Investigation and Arson Reduction Officer, said: “As Ms Casey has said, this is an incredibly rare occurrence and, on behalf of NFRS, I would like to express our condolences to the family and friends of Ms Hanks.
“Both our fire investigation and an independent forensic investigation returned the same conclusion that the fire was caused due to accidental damage to the ‘flex cable’.
“This raises an important issue and our advice is that if you are buying an appliance, particularly if it is second-hand, you should always inspect not just the appliance itself for damage, but also the attached cables and plugs.
“When an appliance has been moved, sometimes cables can become trapped underneath the appliance with the base resting on them. When installing appliances, we would advise you to follow manufacturer’s recommendations for installation and maintenance.
“We would also always advise regular general maintenance of your electrical appliances, making sure they are in good working order and that you register them with Register My Appliance (www.registermyappliance.org.uk) to keep up to date with any relevant recall notices.”