Doncaster man died after accidentally setting fire to his sofa

An alcoholic died in a house blaze after accidentally setting fire to items on the sofa with a discarded match following an all-day drink and drug binge, an inquest heard.

Monday, 11th July 2016, 3:07 pm
Updated Monday, 11th July 2016, 4:11 pm
Floral tributes after the fire that killed Ronnie Taylor at Church Road, Denaby
Floral tributes after the fire that killed Ronnie Taylor at Church Road, Denaby

Friends and neighbours tried in vain to save Ronald William Taylor from his home after it became filled with thick black smoke as the blaze spread from the sofa and tore through the lounge.

An investigation into the cause of the fire revealed there were signs that Mr Taylor had been smoking heroin and the most likely scenario was that a discarded match had ignited clothing and tissue on the sofa.

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The court heard it was likely that Mr Taylor had failed to noticed the fire before he went upstairs to use the bathroom as he had been feeling unwell with stomach problems.

A post mortem result revealed Mr Taylor, who had a long history of alcohol and drug problems, was three times the drink drive limit and also had traces of heroin and cannabis in his system.

Mr Taylor, aged 60, was alone in the property when the blaze started.

His housemate, Joseph Gunn, kicked down the door in an attempt to save him when he returned to the property but the heat and smoke made it too dangerous to venture further inside.

He added: “I could hear popping sounds and could see thick black smoke coming from the side window and billowing out.”

Firefighters who attended the blaze on July 19 of last year at 7.13pm, rescued Mr Taylor, who was found collapsed between the bathroom and landing. He died in Northern General Hospital in Sheffield a short time later of smoke inhalation, which the court heard had taken effect more quickly due to his severe heart disease.

The court heard Mr Taylor had had several stints in prison due to shoplifting and deliberate acts of criminal damage in a bid to return to prison where he felt he could get help to kick his habits.

Speaking about his addictions, a statement from Mr Gunn said: “He was a very troubled person and never got over the split from his wife or the fact he hadn’t spoken to his son in the last three years.”

He said Mr Taylor would drink a litre and a half of vodka a day.

Recording a conclusion of accidental death, coroner Nicola Mundy said: “He had been drinking all day and taking drugs and I think the most likely scenario is a lit match accidentally fell on to combustible materials on the sofa starting a small fire.

“He failed to notice, leaving the sofa to go upstairs and during that time the fire had significant time to progress to the sofa and produce thick black smoke that filled the house.”