Three-Year-Old Girl Died In House Fire

30/11/2012 13:00 | Updated 22 May 2015
Three-year-old girl died in house fire in property 'full of clutter'Alamy

An inquest has heard how a three-year-old girl died in a house fire in a home so full of clutter it ignited, causing toxic smoke which overwhelmed her.

Little Amelia Brown was in a first-floor bedroom of the house in Grinacombe Moor, Devon, when the fire started on December 9 last year, This is Plymouth reports.

The fire service tried to gain access to the property, but were forced back by the fire which melted the plastic visors on their helmets.

They were unable to retrieve the little girl's body until the following day.

The inquest at Bideford town hall was told that the house was full of junk, most of which belonged to Stephanie Brown, Amelia's grandmother, who owned the property. She lived across the road from Amelia and her mother Abigail.

In a statement, Detective Sergeant Barry Mitchell said he had seen 'an extraordinary amount of hoarding and rubbish'.

"It would have made moving around the property very difficult and would have made what I would call normal living activity virtually impossible," he said.

George Setter, from Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service who investigated the fire said he could not close the doors, including Amelia's, on the first floor, because of all the mess.

He said one bedroom door, which was not Amelia's, was blocked by 'a cupboard, clothes, cat litter with excrement in it, and a bag of used nappies'.

"The unusually excessive amount of combustible materials supported accelerated fire development involving readily ignitable surfaces throughout the property," he said.

"This generated large amounts of toxic smoke affecting all parts of the property, overcoming Amelia Brown in the first floor bedroom."

He added that smoke alarms were not fitted in the house.

Mr Setter said no exact cause of the fire could be determined because of how badly the kitchen was damaged.

Stephanie Brown, in her late 60s, told the inquest that her husband David, who has since died, was looking after Amelia while her mum went to a pre-school fund-raising event.

The grandmother admitted there was 'quite a lot' of clutter in the house.

"I'm a great one for make do and mend," she said, "While it may have looked shabby, it was functional."

Deputy coroner John Tomalin recorded a verdict of accidental death and said the cause of Amelia's demise was smoke inhalation

He said Amelia was a 'well-loved child who was well cared for' but added that it was 'accepted by all that there was a large number of items in each room'.

"This was to the extent that internal doors could not be closed," he said.

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