Naked flame deemed the most likely cause of fire that led to Nottingham man's death


Self-immolation through a naked flame was the most likely cause of a fire that led to the death of a Nottingham man, an inquest has heard.

Coroner Laurinda Bower, HM Assistant Coroner for Nottingham and Nottinghamshire ruled that Mr Guy Coombs, 33, of Angell Green, Clifton, died of severe burns after a fire started in his bathroom of his first floor flat.

This ruling came after a hearing that took place virtually at The Council House, Nottingham on Wednesday 5 and Thursday 6 May 2021.

The fire in question occurred on Monday 5 October 2020 and saw Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service crews from West Bridgford, London Road and Highfields called to the incident shortly after 8pm.

On arrival at the scene, firefighters entered the property and discovered Mr Coombs who showed no signs of life. He was pronounced dead at the scene. There was no one else in the property.

At the resulting inquest, the court heard that he most likely used flammable liquid and a lighter to ignite a fire.

Concluding the case, and offering her narrative verdict, Miss Bower described the case as ‘tragic’.

Miss Bower said: “Guy died by his own hand, by way of self-immolation, at a time when the balance of his mind was disturbed.

“I wish to offer my sincere condolences to all who knew Guy.

“Thank you to the brave members of the public who alerted Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service to the fire. As I stated during the inquest, there was nothing more they could have done to save Guy.”

NFRS Fire Investigation Manager Lucie Poxon said: “What happened in this fire was tragic, and our thoughts are with the family and friends of Mr Coombs at this time. Sadly, this is another example of the devastation that fire can cause, and we would really urge people to follow the advice we give, particularly around having an escape plan.

“It’s also worth noting that the alarm was raised in this incident by a working smoke alarm and while, unfortunately, Mr Coombs lost his life, the fire did not spread to neighbouring flats.  We really can’t emphasise enough the importance of having these devices on every level of the property and checking them every week.  We also continue to offer our Safe and Well visits for vulnerable people.”

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