Grandma died in cigarette blaze

Wakefield Coroner court sign
Wakefield Coroner court sign

A 71-year-old great-grandmother died after her cigarette fell on to an armchair, sparking a fire at her home.

Wakefield Coroners Court was told Maureen Mountain was “overcome by smoke” in the blaze at Leeds Road, Lofthouse last year.

Mrs Mountain had been showing signs of dementia, often becoming confused and forgetful, the court was told.

An inquest into her death heard her husband Peter had begun hiding her cigarettes, after noticing burns in the carpet, where they had been dropped.

He expressed concern and did not want her to smoke when he wasn’t in the room.

A statement given to police by Mr Mountain a month after the fire, which took place on Saturday, July 18, 2015 was read to the court.

He said he had gone upstairs to bed at around 9pm, after settling down his wife, who slept on the living room sofa due to mobility issues.

He woke around an hour later and spotted smoke.

He said: “I saw smoke near the window and thought, is she smoking?

“I got out of bed and went downstairs and opened the door to the living room and all I could see was a fog of smoke.

“I shouted Maureen but she did not respond.”

He shook her shoulders and grabbed her but could not move her from the chair.

Mr Mountain, who managed to get himself out of the property, said: “I miss her terribly and it is going to take some time to get used to her not being here.”

The couple, who had two children, four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren were due to celebrate their golden wedding anniversary this year.

The court heard that neighbours and passers by tried in vain to get into the back of the house and get to Mrs Mountain.

But after smashing a back window, they were consumed by smoke and could not reach her.

Firefighters arrived at the property to see smoke and flames from the front door, the inquest was told.

They discovered Mrs Mountain, who had worked as a sewing machinist, auxiliary nurse and later a cleaner at Queen Elizabeth Grammar School and Wakefield Magistrates’ Court, in the chair.

Paramedics pronounced her dead at the scene.

Mark Whittaker, of the West Yorkshire Fire Investigation Team, told the court that fire crews had discovered a cigarette butt under the chair, which they believe caused the arm chair to ignite.

Addressing Mrs Mountain’s children, who were present at the inquest, coroner David Hinchliff said: “Your dad very wisely hid your mother’s cigarettes but it looks as though on that evening she has found them or got a cigarette from somewhere else.

“It looks as though she has been smoking while sitting in the chair and the cigarette has fallen.”

He continued: “What has happened is that your mum has been overcome by smoke and smoke inhalation.

“I don’t say this to cause distress, I say this for the wider population to learn from.

“It would have been a good thing to have some smoke detectors at the home.

“They would have picked up the first whiff of smoke and that might have woken your dad up a little bit sooner.”

He recorded a verdict of accidental death.