Inquest rules smoking materials caused death of 92-year-old woman

11/01/2017

​A house fire in Gotham which led to the death of a 92-year-old woman was caused by smoking materials, an inquest heard.

A court heard on Monday 9 January 2017 that Mrs Joan Kemp died of multiple injuries following a fire at her home on Kegworth Road, Gotham last October.

Assistant Coroner Miss Amanda Cranny returned a narrative conclusion after hearing evidence that Mrs Kemp had smoked cigarettes on the day of the fire.

Crews from East Leake, West Bridgford and Castle Donington were called to the property shortly before 6pm on 14 October 2016 and arrived to find the house well-alight.

Efforts had been made by neighbours to rescue Mrs Kemp before firefighters arrived and forced entry through the back of the house, which was engulfed in what was described as a 'very intense fire.'

The court heard evidence from Station Manager Tom Clark from the Service's Fire Investigation Team, who told the court that the seat of the fire was a recliner chair in the living room.

He added that Mrs Kemp had previously been visited by a Community Safety Operative from Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS) as part of a Home Safety Check, where smoke alarms were fitted and a fire retardant blanket was issued.

Giving her narrative conclusion, Miss Cranny, said: "Mrs Joan Gladys Kemp died on 14 October 2016 as a result of injuries sustained from a fire at her home, the likely cause of which was the ignition of a recliner chair by smoking materials used by Mrs Joan Gladys Kemp."

She added: "I would like to express my condolences to the family of Mrs Kemp. This was a tragic case in which a much loved family member and member of her local community lost her life in the home that she had lived in for over 60 years.

"She was fortunate enough to have a loving family who lived close by and picked her up every night to join them for an evening meal, and many people turned out to help in whatever way they could by trying to gain access to the property, which should be of comfort to the family, and it is nice to see a community working so closely in that way.

"You can't live in the same area for 60 years without being one of the great characters of that community, and that is what Mrs Kemp was to those around her."

Miss Cranny closed the inquest by commending the joint working of Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service and Nottinghamshire Police throughout the course of the investigation.

Following the conclusion, NFRS is urging members of the public to be aware of home safety measures, particularly for those who smoke.

Station Manager Tom Clark, said: "On behalf of Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service, I would like to express our condolences to Mrs Kemp's family and friends.

"This incident was tragic for all involved, and while we know that Mrs Kemp had had a Home Safety Check, we would like to reinforce the importance of everyone assessing personal safety in the home.

"If you have elderly or vulnerable family members, we ask that you assess whether they have working smoke alarms and an escape plan, should their property be affected by fire. When visiting relatives, it is a good idea to test their smoke alarms for them, which we would advise doing every week.

"We would also like to urge everyone to be careful with smoking materials, especially when smoking in the home. Make sure that you dispose of cigarettes safely and keep matches and lighters in a safe place away from children."

If you would like to request a Home Safety Check, you can do so by contacting your local fire station, or by visiting https://www.notts-fire.gov.uk/home-safety-check

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