Death of 88-year-old man in house fire was caused by over-loaded electrical sockets

Inquest opens into death of man, 88, in Brampton house fire.

Inquest opens into death of man, 88, in Brampton house fire. - Credit: Archant

An inquest has ruled the death of an 88-year-old man who died in a house fire in Brampton was caused by an electrical fault.  

The hearing held at Lawrence Court, in Huntingdon, on March 31 was told Peter Key died after a fire at his home, in High Street, on October 28 last year.  

The inquest was told that none of the smoke detectors at the property were in working order and a plug socket in Mr Key's bedroom had been over-loaded, which was the cause of the fire.

A fire investigation report, prepared by Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service, concluded that the fire occurred in the rear upstairs bedroom of the three-bedroom detached house and was fuelled by a "tightly stacked pile of magazines and books" in the bedroom.

Elizabeth Gray, area coroner for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, said: “On the morning of Peter’s death a lady walked past the house and saw smoke, a male jogger stopped to call the fire service.  The fire service attended and saw that Peter’s house was on fire, with smoke coming out of the property."

Ms Gray continued: “The electrics were not up to modern standards and there was only one wall mounted plug socket found, into this was plugged a four-way extension lead, into this was plugged an additional double extension plug.  

“From this lead two further extension leads, one which was a four gang which was melted at the end where the cable entered and another which led behind the wardrobe to the scene of the fire.  

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In her conclusion, Ms Gray told the inquest the fire was started due to an electrical overload within the bedroom area, which had been "exacerbated by the clutter in the property". 

Mr Key had lived on his own for many years since his wife died and his neighbours said he struggled with his mobility.   

The post mortem revealed that the cause of death was 1A smoke inhalation and 1B domestic fire.

In a narrative conclusion by Ms Gray  said: "Mr Key was an elderly gentleman who lived alone in his property, Mr Key found that his mobility had declined and he was very keen to get physio therapy to improve his mobility. He was offered assistance from adult social care and had regular visits from his district nurse and health care assistants who raised concerns about his living conditions being cluttered and damp.

"Mr Key declined offers from those teams to help with his accommodation needs. He spent most of his time in an upstairs bedroom where he kept a significant number of electrical items plugged into a single electrical socket.

"A fire started in the property which on the balance of probability was started as an overloaded electrical sockets within premises where the electrics were not up to modern standards."