Somercotes fire tragedy was caused by cigarette

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A WOMAN died in a house blaze at her Somercotes home after a cigarette set fire to her mattress, an inquest heard.

Suzanne Charlton, 26, had been released from Mansfield’s Kings Mill Hospital following a five-week admission for pneumonia.

Her husband Michael Charlton, 34, told police she had been “pretty much bed-ridden” following discharge from hospital and he was her main carer.

But, at lunchtime on April 11, Charlton was at the home of a friend, Martin Plunkett, with a view to buying a puppy for his wife when he received a message about the fire.

The Chesterfield inquest heard that he ran home and firefighters were already dealing with the upstairs blaze.

An eye-witness saw smoke at the top of the stairs. She added: “I joined the crowd at the front.

“We saw the flames and the window smashed and dropped to the floor.

“The flames then went up to the guttering and the roof. Then Michael came running down the street.”

Fire investigator Chris Smith, a station manager, said the upstairs was well alight when firefighters arrived and found the body of Mrs Charlton on a double bed.

He said the evidence indicated a smouldering fire had developed at the head end of the bed with smoking materials the most likely cause.

Home Office pathologist Prof Guy Rutty believed Mrs Charlton was alive when the fire started but she soon lost consciousness as the blaze spread and “succumbed to it very quickly”.

He said she died from inhalation of smoke and products of combustion and the extensive burning to her body largely took place following death.

North Derbyshire Coroner Dr Robert Hunter recorded a verdict of accidental death on Mrs Charlton, of Queen Street, Somercotes.