Coroner praises effort to save mum from fire
Neighbours and firefighters have been praised by a coroner for their best efforts to save a young mum who died in a house fire.
Retained fire crews got to the blaze at Samantha Knight’s home in Welland Park Road, Harborough, within eight minutes of the alarm being raised, an inquest at Leicester Town Hall heard on Tuesday.
But despite their efforts the 31-year-old died of smoke inhalation after a fire in her living room started by a candle.
The inquest heard she was likely to be unconscious when the fire started, having consumed an amount of alcohol equivalent to six times the legal drink-drive limit.
The inquest was told one of Miss Knight’s neighbours raised the alert at about 7.30pm on Thursday, November 10, 2011, after hearing the smoke alarm.
Tracy Hobson, a friend of Miss Knight who lived two doors down, told the hearing: “I ran to the house and all the windows were black so I tried the front door but it was locked.
“I shouted through the letter box and rang the fire brigade.”
Dave Watson, station manager at Leicestershire Fire and Rescue’s southern station said two crews of retained firefighters, got to the incident in eight minutes – well within the permitted response time even for full-time crew.
“It’s an exceptional response time,” said Mr Watson.
Firefighters went into the smoke-filled house and pulled Miss Knight out, but she could not be saved.
Mr Watson said the fire started from a candle which spread to papers and set fire to shelves and a chair in an alcove in the living room.
Pathologist Dr Catherine Richards said Miss Knight had been found on the living room floor with burns to her feet, evidence that she had been unconscious as the fire blazed.
She said Miss Knight’s blood alcohol level was 429miligrams in 100ml – the legal drink-drive limit is 80mg. She died of carbon monoxide poisoning as a result of the smoke and acute alcohol intoxication.
The inquest heard Miss Knight had a history of alcohol problems and had attempted to harm herself in the past.
Her two children had been taken into the custody of her father and she had sometimes spoken of having nothing to live for, but there was no evidence she committed suicide.
Delivering a verdict of accidental death at the hearing, assistant deputy coroner Lydia Brown said: “Ms Hobson, you were a good neighbour of Miss Knight for some time and in her hour of need you did all you could to save her.
“And I’m really impressed that it only took eight minutes for the fire service to arrive. It wasn’t for a want of effort that Samantha lost her life.
“It appears to me that she had already lost her life when people arrived, in a very timely fashion, to assist her.”
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Wednesday 22 May 2013
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