Man praised in fire death inquest

HIS actions may not have saved her life but the bravery of man who pulled his 98-year-old relative from a burning chair has been praised by a coroner.Pensioner Ivy Orriss died after a tragic accident when an electric heater set fire to her chair at her home in High View Road, Ipswich.

By Jessica Nicholls

HIS actions may not have saved her life but the bravery of man who pulled his 98-year-old relative from a burning chair has been praised by a coroner.

Pensioner Ivy Orriss died after a tragic accident when an electric heater set fire to her chair at her home in High View Road, Ipswich.

An inquest at County Hall heard that her mobility problems may have prevented her being able to put the blaze out herself.


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Mrs Orriss died on May 2 following a fire in her home two days before.

Ipswich coroner Dr Peter Dean, recorded a verdict of accidental death on hearing the circumstances of the fire in her home, before commending the actions of her step son Graham Clark who got her out of the house.

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Mr Clark, who featured in the Evening Star at the time of the fire, arrived at the house to see smoke coming from the front door and broke it down, fighting through thick smoke to rescue her.

Dr Dean said: "I must commend Mr Clark for his very brave actions, in trying to do what he did for Ivy Orriss that afternoon."

Mrs Orriss was sitting on the floor of the kitchen near to the sink with her legs and the cushion of the chair on fire, when she was found by Mr Clark.

A report from fire officers at the scene was read out at the inquest at Suffolk County Hall and it is believed the two bar electric heater had set fire to the chair she was sitting in.

She had no central heating in the house and had problems with her legs and hips. She often sat close to the heater wearing several pairs of tights.

The report stated: "She would have been aware of it being on fire in the very early stages.

"This may have led her to move the chair to the sink to deal with it.

"It is highly probable that Ivy's mobility problems took their toll.

"She did not manage to put the fire out, instead she fell over."

Dr Dean also read out a statement from Mr Clark, which described how he found Mrs Orriss sitting on a cushion, in a smoke-filled kitchen and tried to quell the flames by pouring water on her.

As her son had died two weeks before, Mr Clark said that Mrs Orriss had been living alone, although he and his mother had been looking after her and a meeting with social services had been set up.

On the day of the fire, Mr Clark said he had been to see her in the morning before returning to his mother's for lunch and collecting a flask and some sandwiches for Mrs Orriss.

He said: "As I was approaching the house and was getting the keys I could smell burning and then saw smoke coming from the front door.

"I kicked open the door and the hallway was thick with smoke.

"I saw a hand on the floor in front of me and I realised Ivy was sitting on the floor by the sink unit."

Mr Clark said he tried to help Mrs Orriss up but saw her legs were on fire, although she seemed unaware of it.

He then realised that the cushion she was sitting on was on fire and tried to put out the flames by pouring water on them.

Eventually a fireman entered the kitchen and helped Mr Clark carry Mrs Orriss out. She was taken to hospital but later died from her injuries.

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