Look out for vulnerable adults say fire chiefs after couple die in a blaze at their home

House fire, Queens Road, Somersham,

House fire, Queens Road, Somersham, - Credit: Archant

Fire chiefs have urged people to keep an eye out for vulnerable adults in the community after a couple died in a blaze at their home when a cardboard box next to a wall mounted gas fire caught light.

House fire, Queens Road, Somersham,

House fire, Queens Road, Somersham, - Credit: Archant

The pair died when the fire spread rapidly due to combustible material stacked throughout the bungalow.

The wife was bedridden and unable to escape. The hallway area was cluttered and the rear door was completely blocked making an exit from the home extremely difficult, an inquest heard.

Two carers attending to the wife at the time of the blaze escaped.

The couple’s death has prompted a reminder for people to ensure heaters are used safely as temperatures start to drop and the nights draw in.

House fire, Queens Road, Somersham,

House fire, Queens Road, Somersham, - Credit: Archant


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Kevin Napier, head of Community Fire Safety for Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “There were a number of contributing factors that led to these tragic deaths that highlight the vulnerability of some people in our towns and villages.

“We need the help of our community to help us identify people who are in a similar situation so we can visit and put measures in place with partner organisations to reduce the risk.

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He added: I would urge people to please contact us if you know of a family member, neighbour or someone you provide care for, that may be at higher risk of fire or being unable to escape in the event of a fire.

“Things to look out for include the stacking of combustible materials around exit routes, no working smoke alarms, mobility issues, burn marks from dropped cigarettes or lots of trailing cables and portable heaters.”

House fire, Queens Road, Somersham,

House fire, Queens Road, Somersham, - Credit: Archant

The husband and wife died in a fire in their Somersham home in Queen’s Road last March. It was recorded as accidental by the coroner yesterday (Monday 12).

Roger, 68, and Maureen, 65, Freestone died as a result of the fire, the inquest heard.

Two carers managed to escape.

One suffered burns as she tried to leave through the front door, the other was unharmed, escaping through the bedroom window.

Kevin said: “Six people lost their lives in Cambridgeshire last year as a result of an accidental fire in the home.

“Five of them were aged over 65 with one or more contributing factors making them at higher risk of having a fire in the home.

“We are working closely with other agencies to identify where people with similar profiles live so we can visit and put preventative measures in place.”

• To refer someone for a Safe and Well visit by the fire service, please ring 0800 917 9994 or go to their website www.cambsfire.gov.uk

• Keep clothing and other flammable materials away from gas fires, real fires and electric heaters.

• Fit a smoke alarm to every level of your home and test it at least once a month.

• Ensure escape routes are kept clear and free from clutter

• Know how you would escape if there was a fire in your home and know where keys are to doors and windows.

• Use a sturdy ashtray if you smoke and avoid smoking if sleepy

• If you have a real fire, get your chimney swept now, ready for the winter.

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