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Elderly woman dies after fire

PUBLISHED: 17:00 01 May 2002 | UPDATED: 11:50 03 March 2010

A 98-year-old Ipswich woman today died despite a relative's battle through thick smoke to rescue her from a fire that set her clothes alight.

Graham Clark and his mother Wendy Orriss had turned up to visit her mother-in-law Ivy Orriss at her bungalow in High View Road yesterday afternoon.

A 98-year-old Ipswich woman today died despite a relative's battle through thick smoke to rescue her from a fire that set her clothes alight.

Graham Clark and his mother Wendy Orriss had turned up to visit her mother-in-law Ivy Orriss at her bungalow in High View Road yesterday afternoon.

When she did not answer the door, he began to smell smoke.

Mr Clark, 53, broke down the front door and heard her faint calls, but found the hallway thick with smoke.

Reaching the kitchen, he saw her sitting by the table with her clothes alight, burning her back and legs.

He dialled 999 while desperately trying to douse the flames with water from the sink.

Speaking as he surveyed the blackened rooms coated in soot, Mr Clark relived those horrifying moments.

"I kicked the front door in and I could hear her calling," said the Bramford Road resident. "I called her name. The smoke was so thick everywhere that I couldn't see. I found her sitting in the kitchen.

"I telephoned for the fire brigade with one hand, and threw bucketfuls of water with the other hand.

"I'm a nurse and I've done fire training, but I've never seen anything like it. She was sitting by the table, on fire. Her back and legs were burning."

Mr Clark said there was no way he could lift Mrs Orriss, who was stiff from osteo-arthritis, but said firefighters arrived within what seemed like three or four minutes.

He said Mrs Orriss had lived at the bungalow for 60 years, and only recently started getting help from social services carers. Her son died a fortnight ago.

"She was not truly independent," said Mr Clark, adding that family members visited her most days.

As reported in later editions of yesterday's Star, three fire crews were sent to her home after firefighters were called shortly after 2.25pm.

Paramedics gave Mrs Orriss first aid after firefighters got her out of the bungalow. She was taken by ambulance to Ipswich Hospital, where she received treatment for burns to her legs and lower back before her death today.


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