A BLAZE which claimed the life of a beloved Furness pensioner was started after embers from a log burner set fire to nearby materials, an inquest heard.
Kathleen Braithwaite, 69, died from smoke inhalation at Holme Farm near Broughton on October 16, 2019, the Coroner’s Court in Cockermouth was told.
Despite the best efforts of 11 firefighters, plus many police officers and paramedics the pensioner was found dead at the property shortly after emergency services were called at 9am.
Shortly after the tragedy, many members of the Broughton community, who knew Mrs Brathwaite from her work as a cleaner paid tribute to ‘a lovely person’ who had ‘worked hard all her life’.
During the hearing coroner Simon Ward heard witness evidence describing how they had seen the property engulfed in flames and Mrs Braithwaite’s husband Arthur searching for help.
Mrs Braithwaite’s son Chris Braithwaite told the court how she had suffered mobility issues following a traffic incident a few years prior to her death.
“Mam and dad were sleeping in the kitchen downstairs as he had a stroke in 2015 and struggled to get up the stairs and she had problems with her mobility,” he said.
The court also heard from GP, Dr Wilson, who said Mrs Braithwaite also suffered from lymphoedema.
Mr Braithwaite said his parents would often leave the fire door open despite his warnings.
He described the fire as ‘a towering inferno’ when he arrived at the scene after receiving a call from his colleague Phil Edmundson alerting him the house was on fire.
A report presented to the inquest by the fire service said: “Following investigation, the fire started after he (Arthur Braithwaite) threw another log on the fire and embers flew up and lit up the material around.
“The property was fire loaded through hoarding.”
Mrs Braithwaite’s husband, Arthur told police he tried to find his wife when the fire started but got no response and could not locate her due to the smoke, the court heard.
He was also treated in hospital for smoke inhalation. The police did not find any suspicious circumstances.
Mr Ward was told how fire crews found Mrs Braithwaite deceased inside the building which suffered severe fire damage.
Marjorie Robinson, Mrs Braithwaite’s sister, said in a statement: “As a family we miss her very much.”
A pathologist recorded the cause of death as smoke inhalation after finding soot in her throat.
Delivering his conclusion, Mr Ward said: “Kathleen Braithwaite died as a result of an accident.”