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Erris pensioner died after cigarette caused fire in bed

Pensioner died after cigarette caused fire in bed

Anton McNulty

The dangers of smoking in bed were highlighted in an inquest in Ballina last week which heard that an 89-year-old died when his bed caught fire from a smouldering cigarette.
Michael McAndrew of Gortmelia Upper, Barnatra was found dead in his bed by neighbours on January 27 after a fire started in his bedroom. An investigation into the start of the fire found evidence of cigarette smoking around the bed and gardaí believe he fell asleep while smoking which resulted in his bed catching fire.
The fire was confined to his bedroom and the alarm was only raised when neighbours noticed that his bedroom window was black. His nephew, James McAndrew, told the inquest he had last seen his uncle the night before at 8.45pm when he was lying in bed. He said he was alright and would see him in the morning.
Dr Fadel Bennani, who performed the post mortem explained that the body was severely burnt and the carbon monoxide level in the blood was high. He said the cause of death was due to severe burns. Dr Bennani explained that the carbon monoxide was not enough to cause death but it would have put Mr McAndrew into a coma before he got burnt.
Evidence was heard that Mr McAndrew was able to move about and Dr Bennani told the Coroner for North Mayo, Dr Eleanor Fitzgerald, that he would have reacted to the burns if he had not gone into a coma and may have been able to escape.
Dr Fitzgerald said this not only highlighted the dangers of smoking in bed but also the need to install carbon monoxide detectors. She said if a detector had gone off it may have awakened Mr McAndrew before going into a coma or alerted neighbousrs. She recorded a verdict of accidental death and expressed sympathy to Mr McAndrew’s family and neighbours.

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