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Thursday 20 September 2018

Candle the 'likely cause' of fire that killed woman (88)

The scene of the fire in 2017. Photo: Gerry Mooney
The scene of the fire in 2017. Photo: Gerry Mooney

An elderly woman who liked to light tea lights died tragically in a fire at her home.

Mary Reynell (88), from Cabra, Dublin 7, was sleeping in a downstairs room of the house due to mobility issues. She was living independently but received regular visits from family and neighbours.

Dublin Coroner's Court heard how she liked tea lights and would place the candle on a plate or saucer in her hallway at night time.

Friend Frank Rochford said he often called to see Mrs Reynell and do jobs around the house for her.

"For as long as I remember she used to light night lights and leave them in the hall on a table," he said.

However, when Mrs Reynell asked him to light the tea light for her one night he refused and threw the candles in the bin, believing they were dangerous.

Neighbours raised the alarm on January 2, 2017, when a smoke alarm was heard and smoke seen coming from the house. Neighbours failed to gain access to rescue the woman.

She was found on the floor of her downstairs bedroom by a team of Dublin Fire Brigade firefighters. She was pronounced dead at the scene at 5.40am.

In his report, Garda Mark Kelly of Cabra Garda Station said the fire started on the bedside locker.

"A candle would seem to be the most likely cause," the coroner said.

One of the woman's sons described the damage to her bedroom from the public gallery.

"Where my mum slept was very bad.

"You could see where the flames shot up the wall to the ceiling," he said.

Burns

A post-mortem examination revealed the woman suffered superficial burns to her face, hands and arms, with burns across 25pc of her body, but these were not the cause of her death.

She had inhaled toxic levels of soot and carbon monoxide as the fire took hold, the court heard. The cause of death was asphyxia due to soot and carbon monoxide toxicity with heart disease as a contributory factor.

Deputy Coroner Dr Crona Gallagher returned a verdict of accidental death.

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