St Leonards man died after fire ripped through mother’s house

The scene of the fire last September
The scene of the fire last September
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A carer died at his mother’s house after a fire suddenly broke out in her bedroom in the middle of the night, an inquest heard.

Ian Wilson, 41, who lived with his mum Catherine in Hollington Old Lane, St Leonards, died on September 6 last year.

An inquest into his death was held today (Wednesday, August 9).

Mrs Wilson, who lives in Ramsgate, Kent, said her son was standing in her room by the window with a cigarette.

She said: “I don’t know how it happened. I saw the curtains on the right side of the window go up in flames.

“He had come in my room to see if I was alright. He was trying with his bare hands to put the fire out and so was I.

“The polyester tiles were falling off the ceiling. I could hear him but couldn’t see him because of the black smoke. I crawled down the stairs and out the front door.”

Joseph Harmer, of Hillside Road, was in a taxi with his girlfriend, heading to Coventry Road when they saw flames coming from the upstairs bedroom.

Mr Harmer said: “I ran out of the taxi and into the house. The elderly lady (Mrs Wilson) was hysterical and I asked her if anyone was inside. She said her son was.

“I took my jumper and wrapped it around my face. It was pretty smoky inside. I got to the top of the stairs, shouting for him to follow my voice. It seemed he was responding as I heard groans.

“I literally couldn’t see my hand in front of my face because the smoke was so thick. I started coughing quite badly and realised I couldn’t go any further.”

PC Shaun Ryan was on duty in the area and radioed for help when he saw the fire. Firefighters and other emergency services were then sent to the scene.

The inquest heard Mr Wilson had been drinking at the pub the previous afternoon. Dr Olaf Biedrzycki, pathologist, said Mr Wilson’s cause of death was smoke inhalation and acute alcohol intoxication.

Fire investigation officer, Dan Channon, said he believed the fire was started by a naked flame, rather than a smouldering one, as it spread so quickly. He added he could not come to a conclusion on whether the fire was deliberate or accidental.

Coroner Alan Craze concluded with an open verdict, saying it was ‘more probable than not’ the blaze was started with a naked flame.

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