‘WE hide our tears behind a painted smile’ said the father of a popular Uttoxeter woman who lost her life in a house fire as a coroner ruled bio-ethanol burners should be banned.
Mother-of-two Lisa Oldham died aged just 38 after an horrific house fire at her Wood Lane home earlier this year which left her with 85 per cent, her inquest at Burton Town Hall heard.
South Staffordshire coroner Andrew Haigh heard Mrs Oldham’s clothes caught fire as she attempted to light a bio-ethanol burner, which she had brought a year previously and had used on many occasions, and died after a week battling for life, which included five procedures, at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, in Birmingham, on June 25.
Prior to the accident, she had rang her mother but said she had to go to light the fire as she was chilly. Bio-ethanol burners is a free-standing, portable heating device that relies on a flammable substance and produces a naked flame.
Fire investigation officer Jason Dean, of West Midlands Fire Service, said Mrs Oldham either attempted to light a pot that was already lit or it had gone out leaving on the vapours which can burst into life when a naked flame is added but it resulted in her clothes catching fire. She managed to get out of the house and called the fire service herself.
Mr Dean told the inquest that following the accident they had done tests on the bio-ethanol burners and found sometimes its flame cannot be seen leaving the person to believe it had gone out. Also if the fire had been extinguished but the pot had not yet cooled down the vapours will still set alight when a flame is added causing an explosive fire.
He said: “This type of fire is not common, I have never come across this type of fire before. We have carried out detailed investigations into the bio-ethanol burners as a result of her death and there is no doubt of the dangers they pose.”
DS Ian Fitzgerald, of Staffordshire Police, said concerns had been raised about the health and safety of the products and this had been referred to Trading Standards. The devices have already been banned in some parts of America and Europe following a rise in deaths and burn-related incidents.
Mr Haigh ruled Lisa’s death was accidental and she died as the result of organ failure and major burns. The coroner, who passed on his sincere condolences to the family, said the burners should be banned and will be sending a report to the Government department for business, innovation and skills highlighting how dangerous they are.
Her father Peter Douglas said after the inquest: “We are a family forever in mourning. We hide our tears behind a painted smile, but go to bed at night and cry in our privacy.
“To lose a mother or father is pain in itself, but to lose a child is 10 times worse.
“Lisa’s death has left an open and grieving sore which will never be healed within our family.”