Candle likely cause of fire that led to woman’s death

A FIRE that led to the death of an elderly woman was “most likely” caused by a candle or match which she lit during the night, an inquest has heard.

Ann (Nancy) Cumiskey, aged 81, of Llewellyn Close, Rathfarnham, Dublin, was overcome by smoke in a fire that broke out in her home on September 27, 2009.

Dublin City Coroner’s Court heard Ms Cumiskey’s son-in-law, Patrick Gorman, had turned off the electricity and had taken all the fuses out of the fuse board which resulted in no lights working in the house in the early hours of the morning following a conversation with his wife, Clare, about the ESB bill after he had returned home from the pub.

Mr and Mrs Gorman were separated but lived in the same house together with Ms Cumiskey.

At 4am, Mr Gorman got up to find his mother-in-law, who slept downstairs, coming upstairs to use the bathroom with a torch. There was a candle lighting downstairs on a radiator cover. Mr Gorman said he saw Ms Cumiskey blow out the candle before returning to her bedroom.

A postmortem found Ms Cumiskey, who was found inside the doorway of her room by firefighters, died of smoke inhalation.

Coroner Dr Brian Farrell said the likeliest explanation (for the fire) is that Mrs Cumiskey lit another candle. He recorded a verdict of death by misadventure.

Meanwhile, a second inquest heard an elderly man died nine days after suffering injuries when a smouldering cigarette led to a fire in his upstairs bedroom.

Francis O’Toole, aged 85, of Rafter’s Avenue, Crumlin, Dublin 12, suffered 30 degree burns in a fire on September 14, 2009, and died nine days later.

Thomas O’Toole, the man’s grandson, ran into his grandfather’s bedroom that morning to find the mattress of his uncle Patrick’s bed on fire after he was woken by his barking dog. He helped his grandfather, who was in bed, from his bedroom, but he refused to go downstairs as he was dressed only in undergarments.

Thomas O’Toole left his grandfather in the bathroom and rushed next door to alert his father. When they returned they were unable to go upstairs as flames had spread onto the landing.

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