Leeds disabled man’s fire death

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A disabled man died after a fire broke out while he ran himself a bath at his Leeds home, an inquest heard.

Alexander Forrest, who had cerebral palsy, suffered more than 50 per cent burns and serious smoke inhalation in the incident at Elmtree Lane in Hunslet.

A Leeds inquest heard matches were found in the bathroom and the fire was a result of flammable materials coming into contact with a naked flame.

But Coroner David Hinchliff said it was unclear exactly how it had started.

Recording an open verdict, he said: “I can’t say on the one hand that it was an accident, but neither can I say that it was a deliberate act.”

The inquest heard neighbours raised the alarm after seeing smoke coming from Mr Forrest’s home in the early hours of February 19, 2011.

One witness managed to get in through an open window and rescue his dog, but was then forced back by the ferocity of the fire.

Mr Forrest, 24, who lived alone, was found by firefighters in a kneeling position in his bathroom with the bath taps still running.

He was taken to Leeds General Infirmary before being transferred to Wythenshawe Hospital in Manchester, but he died from his injuries on February 24.

Extensive investigations by the fire service and West Yorkshire Police’s homicide and major enquiry team ruled out arson as a cause of the fire.

Inquiries revealed a problem with the electrical wiring in the floor beneath the bathroom, which was thought to have dated back to 2008.

Mr Hinchliff said it was “scary” that the company which had carried out the work was able to certify that it had been done adequately when it was “clearly substandard”.

Despite the discovery of a severed cable directly below the point where the fire started, tests ruled out an electrical fault as a possible cause.

Mr Forrest’s family said he would not have deliberately started the fire in an attempt to hurt himself.

Mr Hinchliff said: “It was more probably caused by a naked flame coming into contact with combustible materials.”


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