A woman died after the cigarette she was smoking ignited an aerosol canister causing an explosion that ripped through her home.
Glass smashed across the street and neighbours fled after the explosion brought down a wall at Deborah Hall-Popper’s Leeds house.
Terrified students in a neighbouring house hurled belongings from a first-floor window as flames poured from the Edwardian terrace in Moorland Avenue, in Hyde Park.
An inquest at Leeds Coroner’s Court heard that the explosion could have been caused by a leaking aerosol canister that ignited after Ms Hall-Popper.
Ms Hall-Popper, who lived alone, had been a teacher at Newton Lodge secure unit in Wakefield for 10 years and was well-known in the community.
West Yorkshire coroner David Hinchliff yesterday issued a warning about the storage of aerosols. He said: “You should all be very careful with how you store aerosols.
“I learn something every day in this job. It struck me as quite remarkable because
something entirely innocuous as an aerosol can cause an explosion of this severity that it could cause internal damage.”
West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Serviceinvestigator Christopher Clarke said that crews were alerted after students at a nearby barbecue party heard a bang on June 3 last year.
Firefighters broke down the door and had to climb over storage because Ms Hall-Popper’s home was “very cluttered”.
Mr Clarke said that there were large aerosol canisters containing expanding foam on the second floor of the building that had ruptured.
He told the hearing that there were at least six or eight damaged canisters thought to have contained lighter fuel and polish.
Mr Clarke said that incidents involving aerosols were not unusual and added: “It is a fairly regular occurrence but probably not with the same outcome.
“West Yorkshire Fire attend these on an all too regular basis.”
A post mortem examination determined the cause of death as inhalation of fire fumes.
The inquest heard that Ms Hall-Popper had previously suffered from depression and had spent months in hospital following a car crash in 2001 that killed her 19-year-old son Alex.
Recording a verdict of accidental death Mr Hinchliff said: “In these circumstances I don’t feel that Deborah has in any way chosen this as a method to harm herself.”
He added: “In my view Deborah’s death was a very unfortunate accident.
“I think it was a coincidence that she just happened to be in that vicinity and smoking at that time.”