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House blaze victim dead

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: November 20, 2012

Gough Side

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A DISABLED woman has died after suffering horrific burns in a fire started by a discarded cigarette.

Firefighters battled to save Susan Walker, 63, after flames engulfed the bedroom of her ground-floor flat in Gough Side, Burton.

Due to the severe nature of her injuries, Ms Walker was given an anaesthetic by a doctor at the scene before being airlifted to a specialist burns unit at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham.

She died from multiple burn injuries at 7.30am yesterday.

Emergency crews including firefighters from Burton and Tutbury, two air ambulances, police, paramedics and ambulance staff attended the incident, which happened at 12.30pm on Sunday, after being alerted by a neighbour.

Firefighters wearing specialist breathing equipment entered the smoke-logged flat and found Ms Walker next to her bed, which was well alight.

Following a joint investigation involving the cause of the blaze was accidental due to ‘careless disposal of smoking materials’.

Burton Fire Station manager Toby Wilson told the Mail: “We’d urge smokers not to smoke in bed as it is incredibly dangerous and fires can easily start. We urge people to use proper ashtrays on flat surfaces and to ensure that when they put their cigarettes out, they are fully out.

“We’d also encourage people not to smoke near to combustible materials, such as bedding, sofas or curtains.” Inspector Tyrone Kerr, from the East Staffordshire local policing team, said they were not treating the incident as suspicious.

He said: “We have conducted an investigation and we are not looking for anyone else in relation to this incident and we are not treating it as suspicious.

“We are awaiting the result of the investigation, but it appears at this stage it was connected to the fact the lady was a smoker.

“The 63-year-old woman, who was the sole occupant of the house, was taken by air ambulance to hospital where she was treated overnight, but unfortunately she succumbed to her injuries yesterday.

“This incident reinforces the message to people who are smoking in their home address to make sure cigarettes are put out appropriately and not left to burn out.”

‘This incident brings home how serious fires can be’

NEIGHBOURS have told how they watched in horror as firefighters battled to a save a woman’s life after pulling her from a burning flat.

Fire crews managed to free 63-year-old Susan Walker, who was trapped in her bedroom by flames sparked by a discarded cigarette.

However, her injuries were so severe that she died in hospital at 7.30am yesterday.

One resident, who alerted the emergency services, told the Mail how firefighters frantically worked to keep the victim alive.

“Once they got her out of the house they immediately started resuscitation in the middle of the street,” the neighbour said.

“Paramedics were on the scene soon after and took over while they waited for an air ambulance to arrive.

“Two air ambulances came and she was taken away in one of them.

“It was distressing to see as she was covered in black smoke, not moving and in a bad way.

“I was one of the people who called the fire service because I could hear an alarm going off and I could smell smoke, even though I couldn’t actually see anything of the fire.”

Another neighbour, who asked not to be named, described the incident as ‘tragic’.

He said: “Sue was severely disabled and wheelchair bound. She couldn’t move her legs and only had use in one of her arms.

“I think it’s really sad and tragic. She had lived there for about 10 years and always kept herself to herself. She was a bit of a recluse.

“I don’t think she had many friends or family as she never saw or spoke to anyone.

“The only people she ever saw were her carers as she didn’t answer the door to other people. She was totally dependent on her carers, they visited all the time to do her cooking, to wash her and tidy up.

“It brings it home how serious fires can be, especially when something like this happens a few doors away.”

Several floral tributes have been left on Ms Walker’s doorstep, with one reading: “RIP Sue. You will be greatly missed. Love from all the girls at Radis Care Company.”

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  • Burton Mail  |  November 20 2012, 7:48PM

    My heart goes out to this lady's family such a tragedy

  • Burton Mail  |  November 20 2012, 7:35PM

    RIP sue you didn't deserve this I loved caring for you may you find peace now xxxxx