Farmer dies after suffering burns

A RETIRED Suffolk farmer has died after suffering 85% burns in a horrific accident as he tried to light a bonfire.Harry Chapman, 82, who was described by a local rector as a "great local figure who would help anyone", was found engulfed in flames by his wife in the grounds of their home at Flixton, near Bungay.

A RETIRED Suffolk farmer has died after suffering 85% burns in a horrific accident as he tried to light a bonfire.

Harry Chapman, 82, who was described by a local rector as a "great local figure who would help anyone", was found engulfed in flames by his wife in the grounds of their home at Flixton, near Bungay.

Marjorie, 79, tried to put out the fire using a jacket and buckets of water, and her husband was taken to hospital by air ambulance, where he later died.

Rev Sam Lee, local rector, said Mr Chapman had been a "very well liked and respected" man in the area.

He added: "He was one of the great local figures in the village, a man who would help anyone."

Mrs Chapman had found her husband in flames about 70 yards from their bungalow's back door. She wrapped a jacket around him and rushed to and from the kitchen with buckets of water to throw over his body.

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It is not yet known what caused the accident, but one theory is that Mr Chapman may have doused the bonfire in petrol before trying to light it and a "blow back" had occurred. It is also believed he had a large amount of oil on his clothing having earlier been working on a boiler.

Friend and neighbour, Beverly Rimmer, said it was only by chance that Mrs Chapman had gone to look for her husband yesterday lunchtime .

"She said he was just like a human torch. He wanted her to stay with him but she had to go back to the bungalow to dial 999.

"She wrapped him in a jacket and went backwards and forwards with buckets of water but the fire over his body just would not go out," Mrs Rimmer said.

A paramedic in a rapid response vehicle from Diss was on the scene a few minutes before the East Anglian Air Ambulance arrived.

Steve Murrow , one of the paramedics in the air ambulance, said Mr Chapman had been sitting on a wall and was "fully conscious and alert".

Mr Murrow said he and other paramedics had wrapped the whole of the elderly man's body in "gel pads" and given him oxygen.

When he arrived at hospital he was still conscious and was able to talk to doctors. However, a hospital spokesman confirmed last night Mr Chapman had died.

Mrs Rimmer said she understood Mr Chapman had a lot oil over his clothes - as a result of work he had just carried out on the bungalow's central heating boiler - and that this may have caught fire as he was trying to light the bonfire.

However, accident investigators are also considering the possibility that he had doused the bonfire in petrol before trying to light it in yesterday's strong breeze and that a "blow back" had occurred.

Neighbours said Mr Chapman was a very active man, despite having retired.

"He literally cut acres of grass by himself and was always busy doing something," said one local resident.

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