Elderly Woman Dies After Accidently Setting Fire To Herself

PUBLISHED: 16:48 01 February 2010 | UPDATED: 11:13 04 May 2010

elderly woman dies after setting fire to herself

elderly woman dies after setting fire to herself

A 73-year-old woman from Ely died after accidentally igniting a cigarette lighter in her pocket and setting herself alight, an inquest has heard. Barbara Hardwick suffered severe burns to her back and legs in the fire and died the following day at Broomfi

A 73-year-old woman from Ely died after accidentally igniting a cigarette lighter in her pocket and setting herself alight, an inquest has heard.

Barbara Hardwick suffered severe burns to her back and legs in the fire and died the following day at Broomfield Hospital in Essex.

The fire occurred at Mrs Hardwick's self-contained flat at the Baird Lodge Care Home in Ely on September 4, 2009. Staff were alerted to a fire alarm sounding from Mrs Hardwick's flat and arrived to find her slumped at the foot of her bed with her back and legs on fire, coroner David Osbourne was told.

Two support workers at the home, Sharon Evans and Jean Burkett, dampened bathroom towels and managed to quell the flames on Mrs Hardwick as well as those that had spread around the living room of the flat.

Mrs Burkett stayed with Mrs Hardwick while the emergency services were summoned to the home on Lumley Close at around 7.45pm. Ambulance and fire crews hauled the 73-year-old onto a wooden chair before she was rushed to Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge.

She was then transferred to a specialist burns unit at the Essex hospital where it was established that she had suffered 60 per cent burns to her body. She was given extensive intravenous hydration treatment but failed to respond and died in the early hours of the following morning.

In a report read out at the inquest held on Thursday at Ely Register Office, station officer for Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service, Bruce Parcell, said: "I arrived on the scene at 20:47 and could see that the main area of the fire was based around an armchair where Mrs Hardwick had been sitting.

"From the pattern of burning I could see that the fire involved a cushion and the covering of the chair. A basket next to the chair was also on fire as was a waste bin. There was also burnt debris on the floor leading into the bedroom where Mrs Hardwick was discovered.

"It is most likely that she was searching for something in her pocket when she accidentally ignited her cigarette lighter which would have caused her cotton clothing to ignite. She then fell to the floor in an effort to put out the flames.

"The burnt debris suggests that Mrs Hardwick crawled into the bedroom where she was discovered by carers."

Offering his condolences to the family of Mrs Hardwick, the coroner recorded a verdict of accidental death caused by smoke inhalation and burns.


If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Ely Standard. Click the link in the yellow box below for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years, through good times and bad, serving as your advocate and trusted source of local information. Our industry is facing testing times, which is why I’m asking for your support. Every single contribution will help us continue to produce award-winning local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Thank you.

Most Read

Most Read

Latest from the Ely Standard