Cambridgeshire

Somersham fire: 'Hoarder' couple's death 'accidental'

Somersham house after fatal fire
Image caption A man and woman died in the fire at their two-storey home on Easter Monday

A couple died in a house fire after flames took hold of their "cluttered" house, an inquest has heard.

Roger Freestone, 67, and his wife Maureen, 65, died in the blaze at Queens Road in Somersham, Cambridgeshire, on Easter Monday.

The inquest heard Mr Freestone was seen kicking a cardboard box, which had caught fire, out of the front door.

The couple were said locally to be hoarders. A verdict of accidental death was recorded.

Carers escaped

Huntingdon Coroner's Court also heard Mrs Freestone had mobility issues.

Two carers in the home escaped. One managed to get out of the front door and had minor burns, while the other escaped through a living room window.

Coroner David Heming read out a statement that said it was noted the couple were hoarders and the cardboard box had ignited a curtain over the front door.

Mr Freestone had gone back into the house to be with his wife, who was bed-bound.

Post-mortem examinations showed the couple died from the effects of smoke inhalation and carbon monoxide poisoning.

Kevin Napier, head of community fire safety for Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: "The fire developed and spread rapidly as there was a lot of combustible material throughout the bungalow.

"Mrs Freestone was bedridden and unable to escape. The hallway area was cluttered and the rear door was completely blocked, making an exit from the home extremely difficult.

"Things to look out for include the stacking of combustible materials around exit routes, no working smoke alarms, mobility issues, burn marks from dropped cigarettes or lots of trailing cables and portable heaters."

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