Pensioner died after cigarette set fire to bed

The scene on Leyland Lane the morning after Maureen Brandwood was killed in a fire
The scene on Leyland Lane the morning after Maureen Brandwood was killed in a fire

A woman died in her home after drinking too much alcohol and accidentally setting fire to her bed with a cigarette.

An inquest into the death of Maureen Brandwood, 72, from Leyland Lane in Leyland, heard that the former saleswoman was determined to retain her independence, despite being bed-bound.

Firefighters were called to her cottage-style home on November 11 last year, and watch manager Aiden Fortune told the inquest at Preston Coroner’s Court yesterday, that the blaze had started from a cigarette in the lounge, which was used as a bedroom by Mrs Brandwood.

She died of extensive burns, and questions were asked of the care providers who visited Mrs Brandwood as to why there was no smoke alarm in the property at the time of the fire.

The woman, who was divorced and has a son who she is not in contact with, was visited twice a day by Leyland’s Community Care Team to help with meal times and household chores, and had also had a risk assessment into her home and care needs by Lancashire County Council.

At the time of the assessment, the court heard, a smoke alarm was fitted in the property, but nobody checked if it worked and she wasn’t referred to the fire service for a home safety check, because it is up to patients of a stable mental capacity to decide if that is what they want.

Mrs Brandwood was also warned by numerous people about the dangers of smoking in bed, but told everyone she would ‘be alright’.

Coroner Simon Jones heard how the care teams now work alongside the fire service in training.

Recording a verdict of accidental death, he concluded: “Mrs Brandwood’s death was a result of her determination to smoke in bed while the worse for drink and while unable to get out of it because of her physical situation.”

- See next week’s Leyland Guardian for more on this story.