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Inquest: Electric blanket failure caused fire which led to Nottingham woman’s death

The cause of a fatal fire on Cator Lane, Chilwell, has been ruled as accidental ignition, caused by the failure of an electric blanket, by Mr. Nathanael Hartley, Assistant Coroner for Nottingham City and Nottinghamshire.

The inquest finished yesterday (Tuesday 16 May), with the court hearing how Ms. Joan Holmes (88) died from smoke inhalation and severe burns, after her electric blanket had an electrical fault.

The incident took place on 10 July 2022, when Joan was sadly pronounced dead at her home address on Cator Lane, Chilwell.

Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service was alerted to the incident at 12pm by Joan’s carer, who called 999 after hearing a smoke alarm and discovering a large amount of smoke in Joan’s bedroom.

Mr. Hartley said in his closing statement that “this fire began in Joan’s bedroom, the seat of fire being her bed.

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“Remains of an electric blanket were discovered during the fire investigation, and I am satisfied that the electrical failure of the blanket is what caused the fire to start.

“Joan suffered severe burns and smoke inhalation, which ultimately lead to her sad passing.

He added “Today I am urging anyone looking after their loved ones to pay attention to the electrical items in their home, especially if they’ve been used for a long time. We must prevent the same tragic accident from happening to another family.

“Finally, I wish to extend my sincerest condolences to Joan’s family and friends. I know she will be greatly missed.”

Tom Clark, Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service Station Manager said: “To attend this type of tragic incident is saddening for the entire fire service and the communities we serve. I would also like to extend our deepest sympathies to Ms. Holmes and her family for their sad loss.

“Please ensure that any electrical items in your home are safe to use, including electric blankets. Look out for frayed fabric or wiring, and replace it if the blanket is old, worn, or showing any signs of damage. It is also particularly important that if the electric blanket is pink or blue (rather than white), you stop using it straightaway and replace if required, as it’s over 10 years old and likely to be unsafe.”

To arrange a Safe and Well Visit, or find out more about electrical safety, visit the Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service website.

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