Cigarette blaze killed Leeds smoker trying to quit

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A SMOKER who had been trying to quit the habit died in a house fire caused by a dropped cigarette, an inquest heard.

Janette Stephenson, 51, woke and tried to flee the blaze in the bedroom at her home in Oxford Drive, Kippax, Leeds.

Wakefield Coroner’s Court heard firefighters discovered her collapsed and unconscious on the first floor landing just after 5pm on April 29 last year.

The former pizza delivery driver suffered only minor burns in the blaze, which destroyed her mattress.

She died as a result of inhaling fumes from the fire, with a contributory factor of alcohol intoxication.

Earlier last April, Miss Stephenson had asked her doctor for help with stopping smoking and had been described Nicorette chewing gum.

The inquest was told Miss Stephenson was a binge drinker and was the equivalent of more than three-and-a-half-time times over the drink drive limit when she died.

Fire investigators discovered three packets of cigarettes, an ashtray and a lighter on a bedside cabinet.

Discarded cigarettes were also discovered on an upholstered chair and a chaise longue in the house,

Fire investigators discovered there were no smoke alarms fitted in the house.

Miss Stephenson’s brother Michael told the inquest his sister was deaf and would not have been able to hear a conventional smoke alarm.

Fire investigator Jon Needham told the inquest West Yorkshire Fire Service offers free fire safety checks and will fit smoke alarms in people’s homes free of charge.

And he said special smoke detecting systems can be fitted free of charge for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

The systems involve an alarm with flashing lights and a vibrating pad to go under a pillow.

Recording a verdict of accidental death, West Yorkshire Coroner David Hinchliff urged anyone who has not got a smoke alarm to fit one or take advantage of the free fire safety checks.

Mr Hinchliff added; “The most likely explanation of the fire, which was confined to the bed area, is that Janette, who we know was a smoker, may well have been smoking in bed at the time.”

To book a home fire safety check, call West Yorkshire Fire Service on 0800 587 4536.

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