Child's death was tragic accident

SIX-year-old Anton Fox's death in a fire at his Ipswich home was a tragic accident, an inquest has heard.Anton died after fire broke out in the early hours of January 2 in the upstairs bedroom he shared with his brother Joseph Fox and his uncle Thomas Fox.

By Victoria Knowles

SIX-year-old Anton Fox's death in a fire at his Ipswich home was a tragic accident, an inquest has heard.

Anton died after fire broke out in the early hours of January 2 in the upstairs bedroom he shared with his brother Joseph Fox and his uncle Thomas Fox.

His death was caused by smoke and fume inhalation when an electric fire was placed too close to his bed.

Ipswich Coroner's Court yesterday heard how neighbours attempted to rescue Anton from his home on Marlow Road but flames fought rescuers back before they could get to him.

In a statement from Anton's mother, Ester Fox, the court heard how their house had had no heating when they moved in and that she had bought a two-bar electric fire. But she decided that it was not safe to have around her children.

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She said that Thomas has asked to use the fire when the weather got colder.

On the night of the fire the family had gone to bed later than usual.

"I was tired and fell asleep then Thomas ran in panicking. I could see there was smoke coming from their bedroom and my immediate though was for my children," said Mrs Fox's statement.

It continued: "I could see that Anton's bed was on fire and it was very frightening. We were driven back by flames and I could hear Joseph shouting for me. I never saw or heard Anton."

In a statement from neighbour Jonathan Field, the court heard how he was watching television when he had a knock on the door at around 1.30pm.

"I went outside and there were lots of people standing around. I became aware that two children were still inside and tried to get them out but was beaten back by flames."

The court also heard from Anton's father Mark Ditcham, who was at the inquest, about how the family had reported a faulty smoke alarm to the council at least two years ago but had never had it fixed.

Coroner Peter Dean said that while this was important information, it was in no way placing fault with the council.

Assistant Divisional Officer Ken Seager carried out the fire investigation after Anton's death and concluded that the only likely cause was the electric fire. He confirmed nothing else such as matches or lighters were found in the room.

"All the evidence pointed to the foot of the bed as the main area of the fire. We looked at whether the fire itself was defective but tests confirmed it was not. It also confirmed our belief that the fire was caused by being too close to the bedding," he said.

"People need to be aware that heaters are designed to give off heat and there should be a safe space around them and they should not be put close to anything liable to burn," he added.

Coroner Peter Dean, in giving a verdict of accidental death, concluded that it had been a tragic accident and paid tribute to the bravery of those who attempted to rescue Anton, including his brother and uncle.

The family lost many of their belongings in the fire but after the Evening Star made an appeal for help for the family donations from our readers and companies came flooding in.

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