Disabled mother died in fire

A disabled woman who could not cry for help died in her own bed as a fire engulfed her bedroom, an inquest heard today.

A disabled woman who could not cry for help died in her own bed as a fire engulfed her bedroom, an inquest heard today.

An inquest in Norwich heard how Pauline Crane, 65, was confined to a wheelchair and would not have been able to shout for aid or move away from the fire.

Her son, Jason Crane, told the hearing at the Assembly House: “Because she had suffered a stroke my mother couldn't communicate, she could only say yes and no.”

Mr Crane, who lives in an adjoining house, tried to rescue his mother from the fire in the early hours of July 25, but was beaten back by the intense heat. He then ran back to his house, which has connecting doors to his mother's home, fetched a ladder and rescued his partner and three children from an upstairs window.

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Mr Crane's home was not damaged in the fire, but he was concerned the fire could spread to his house. He had been carrying out substantial renovations to the two semi-detached prefabricated cottages in Foxburrow Road, Sprowston, near Norwich.

A carer who tends to Mrs Crane everyday said everything appeared normal when she visited that morning. She left Mrs Crane at 9.30am with the television and lamp on, and locked the door behind her.

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Norwich deputy coroner, Jacqueline Lake, said the likely cause of the fire was the lamp beside Mrs Crane's bed, which the elderly lady insisted was left on all night.

A forensic scientist's report said the lamp was in a “very poor condition” and was attached to a wall socket via two extension leads. Mrs Crane's bedroom, the hallway and staircase were all severely damaged by the fire.

Barry Key, a fire investigator, said when fire-fighters attended “flames were coming out of the ground floor window which we understood to be Mrs Crane's bedroom”.

Firemen found Mrs Crane's body lying on her hospital-type bed, which was destroyed by the fire.

A post mortem found she died from smoke inhalation.

Recording a verdict of accidental death, Mrs Lake said: “Mrs Crane was fine and well the day before she died, and there is no suggestion of anything suspicious in her death. Mr Crane tried to save his mother but as the heat was so strong he was not able to enter her room.”

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