Man died before fire took hold

A MAN died before a major fire took hold at his home, an inquest heard. Richard West, 81, of Nash Close, Stevenage, collapsed and died of bronchial pneumonia before a cigarette started a fire which caused extensive damage to his home on January 11. On the

A MAN died before a major fire took hold at his home, an inquest heard.

Richard West, 81, of Nash Close, Stevenage, collapsed and died of bronchial pneumonia before a cigarette started a fire which caused extensive damage to his home on January 11.

On the night of his death neighbours battled to get into his home via the back door but the heat was too much.

A fire investigation showed the most likely cause of the fire was a cigarette setting light to a mattress on a bed in the living room - where he slept.


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Hatfield Coroner's Court was told yesterday (Wednesday) that the post mortem showed Mr West died before the fire took hold.

Coroner Edward Thomas said: "I am satisfied Mr West died of natural causes but there are still important messages in terms of fire prevention to come from this.

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"It is important to make sure cigarettes are properly put out, that doors are kept closed to prevent the fire spreading and people have smoke alarms fitted and checked."

Stevenage station commander Dave Stokes said as a result of the fire his crews had fitted 50 smoke alarms in the area surrounding Mr West's home.

* If you would like a free fire safety check or advice call 0800 5873 347 or 01438 737399.

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