Cause of fire that killed widower ‘accidental’.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

THE cause of a house fire that killed an elderly widower has been ruled an accident, despite the cause of the blaze remaining unknown.

The inquest heard that 83-year-old Victor Wilson was found dead when a family member called at his home on the Lissan Road on 15th November last year and discovered extensive fire damage and smoke in some of the rooms.

The investigation into the blaze centred around an area in the living room oppostie a wood burning stove.

A forensic expert, Julian Halligan, told the inquest there were a number of possibilities for the cause of the fire but he couldn't be certain what was behind it.

He said that the fire started between two armchairs and that one of the was lying on its side. The armchairs were opposite the stove, and both of the stove's doors were open.

Mr Halligan said that charred debris was found near the stove and that a melted slipper was found inside. However it is unlikely a spark came from the wood burning stove.

It's thought that Victor, who suffered from Alzheimer's, may have dropped something flammable on the floor of the living room.

Police were able to rule out anything suspicious and said there was no sign of any forced entry to the property.

An electrical fault or the use of accelerants were also ruled out.

The retired landlord, who had moved to Cookstown to be closer to his family following the passing of his wife, died from smoke inhalation.

Margaret Wilson, a family member who was his carer, discovered the fire damage when she called at his home.

She told the court how, she tried to contact Victor and having been unable to do so, called her daughter and son-in-law who rushed round to the house.

They rang the emergency services when they discovered him.

It was Margaret's son-in-law Harold, who discovered him, lying face down.

"When I saw him lying on the floor, I shouted his name," said Harold.

"We turned him over and tried looking for signs of life." Victor's nephew, Harpur Wilson, was the last person to see him alive.

Speaking at the inquest he said: "I got a phone call to say that Victor had been seen walking along Morgans Hill Road and I was concerned as he had bad knees.

"I went to his house and he was in the sitting room and the log burner was lit. He was in good form.

"I left around 8.20pm and that was the last time I saw him alive." Dr James Lyness, Deputy State Pathologist, said Victor's death was caused by smoke inhilation.

Soot was found on Victor's lips, mouth, throat, windpipe and airways, which indicated he was still alive when the fire started.


Coroner Suzanne Anderson said: "Perhaps he has taken something from the stove and dropped it.

"Maybe he saw the fire and tried to push the chair over it.

"It is a set of very unusal circumstances." In her findings the Coroner said she was unable to determine how the fire started but she was satisifed it was an accident.


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