OAP likely to have died fighting blaze

Emergency services at the scene
Emergency services at the scene

A PENSIONER may have collapsed trying to put out a fire at his home which killed him, an inquest heard this week.

Peter Taylor, 78, of Calvert Road, was found lying in his lounge at his home on January 6 after the blaze took hold.

Wednesday’s inquest heard he was a hoarder who rarely threw any papers out and his home was strewn with old documents and other things like telephone directories.

George O’Reilly, fire investigator for East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, said there were matches found in Mr Taylor’s house.

He said: “The deceased had significant burn marks on his hands and it is quite feasible that these came about as he tried to extinguish the fire. It may be that he collapsed while trying to put it out.

“The fire developed very slowly as there was evidence of smouldering.”

Mr O’Reilly said when firefighters arrived at Mr Taylor’s house at around 6.50am there was a ‘great deal’ of smoke and ‘not a lot’ of flames.

He added: “It is likely that the fire started accidentally by the accidental dropping of a lit match landing on some paper, of which there was a great abundance.”

Mark Horseman, of Old London Road, who knew Mr Taylor, a retired lecturer, for 30 years, said: “His health was going downhill and deteriorating rapidly in later years. Mobility was a major problem and he walked with two sticks. I was often called out by him to go to his house and help him after having a fall. I eventually had a key made so I could let myself in so I could get his groceries and keep an eye on him.”

Mr Horseman said his friend suffered a fall on December 28 last year and both of them agreed that he should get outside help from social services.

Mr Taylor fell again at home five days later.

At Wednesday’s inquest, Mr Horseman said Mr Taylor was using an electric fan heater in the lounge two days before he died and believed he had it too close to him, posing a possible fire hazard.

But it was ruled that this was not the cause of the blaze that killed the pensioner.

Mr Horseman said: “Peter was a bit of a hoarder. There was a trolley in the living room with a lot of his paperwork on it and he used the stairs as a filing system.”

Coroner Alan Craze recorded a verdict of accidental death.