Doncaster house fire OAP, 82, dies

Fire at a house on Milton Grove, Armthorpe.
Fire at a house on Milton Grove, Armthorpe.

A bedridden pensioner who died in a fire at her Doncaster home is believed to have been overcome by smoke as she crawled to the door in a bid to escape.

The woman, aged 82, was rescued by a neighbour and a carer who found her lying behind the front door of the house in Armthorpe on Tuesday afternoon.

Sadly she died a few hours later in Doncaster Royal Infirmary.

The woman was named locally as Irene Gallagher, who is believed to have been widowed a few years ago and lived alone.

Mrs Gallagher is understood to have slept downstairs in the living room, with carers visiting her several times a day.

Fire service investigators believe a discarded cigarette end probably started the fire in a waste paper basket.

Crews from Doncaster and Edlington fire stations were called to the address on Milton Grove just after 4pm on Tuesday.

They found the elderly lady near the front door and rescued her, but she died later in hospital.

Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus put out a fire at the rear of the ground floor of the semi-detached property.

Next door neighbour Lisa Betts said her 17-year-old daughter, Nicole Lythall, returned from a driving lesson to find fire engines and emergency vehicles in the cul-de-sac.

“I was coming back from work when I saw them all zooming past but I couldn’t see any sign of flames coming from the house,” she said. “The only thing I could see was one of the windows was all black.”

Mrs Betts said a carer, who has a key to open Mrs Gallagher’s front door, had arrived but couldn’t open the door because she was lying behind it so another resident, Kev Kelsey, helped her force the door open.

“I’ve lived here two years and have hardly ever seen Irene because she was bedridden. I think it would have been very hard for her to get to the door and out of the house,” said Mrs Betts.

Mr Kelsey’s partner said they did not want to talk about the incident.

Yesterday morning police scientific officers and fire scene investigators arrived to find out the cause.

Afterwards Group Manager Mick Mason, of South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue, said discarded smoking materials had been found in a wicker basket in the living room.

“We think that is where the fire started and spread to a magazine rack next to it. It’s been contained in that corner of the room,” he said.

“There wasn’t a lot of burning but there has been a lot of smoke damage. We understand this lady slept in the room where the fire was. She appears to have made it to the hallway where a care worker found her.”

Mr Mason said it was impossible to say how long the fire had been smouldering before it was reported to the fire service.

Mrs Gallagher’s privately-owned home was equipped with working smoke detectors, but it appears they were not audible enough for any passers-by to raise the alarm.

Doncaster Council’s director of Adults and Communities, Joan Beck, said: “Our thoughts and condolences are with her family. We will assist our partner agencies with their investigation but as this is an ongoing matter we cannot comment further at this time.”