Cigarette was likely cause of fire death, inquest hears

A 53-year-old man died in a fire that started in his mattress, most likely the result of a cigarette, Dublin Coroner’s Court heard. 

Christopher Kelly (53) of Sigurd Road, Dublin 7 was seen by a neighbour walking home in an intoxicated state around 4.30pm on April 26 2015. 

Mr Kelly had moved in with the homeowner Mary O’Brien after he did some ‘odd jobs’ for her and she offered him the spare room. She was found in a back bedroom of the single storey house and survived the fire, the inquest heard.

Garda Tiernan Feeney of the Bridewell garda station said there was a partially burnt mattress and a charred hole in the floor of the front room where the deceased had been staying.

“There were a lot of cigarette butts around the floor and mattress,” Garda Feeney said.

There appeared to be more smoke damage than flame damage in the house, the garda told the court.

The cause of Mr Kelly's death was asphyxia, according to an autopsy report and the pathologist noted as contributory factors elevated carbon monoxide levels of 32 per cent and a blood alcohol level of 289 milligrams per cent, the equivalent of ten drinks, the coroner said.

The inquest heard that in a house fire situation in can be dangerous to open an outside access door due to the risk of adding oxygen and inadvertently fuelling the flames.

Bernie Biggs, who went to the scene when Mary O’Brien's personal alarm went off, was told by Dublin Fire Brigade not to open the front door. She drove around 30 mins from Kilcock as three other people to be named contacts to be called in an emergency situation (one of whom was Mr Kelly) were not available.

Coroner Dr Myra Cullinane recorded a verdict of accidental death.

“This was quite an unexpected and tragic event and difficult in the context of having set up alerts that three of the contacts were unavailable," the coroner said.


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