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UPDATED: Warning on heater danger after inquest into caravan fire death
1:59pm Thursday 15th August 2013 in News
THE death of a young Weymouth mum in a caravan fire was caused by a halogen heater, an inquest heard.
Vikki Syme, 26, died in a caravan blaze at Martleaves Farm on Ryemead Lane, Wyke Regis in January.
Clothes left near a heater in the caravan sparked the blaze, the inquest heard.
West Dorset Coroner Sheriff Payne recorded a verdict of accidental death.
The inquest, held at County Hall in Dorchester, was told how Miss Syme had died due to inhalation of fire fumes.
It is thought the mother-of-one was asleep when the blaze broke out and the inquest heard how she was just 'two or three' steps from survival.
She had been visiting her boyfriend Adrian Wilson in the caravan where he lived, but was alone at when the fire broke out.
The inquest heard how Miss Syme had left the Boot Inn pub in a taxi and arrived at the caravan at around 9.15pm.
Mr Wilson told the inquest how she had arrived intoxicated before lying down on the sofa.
He said: “She had too much to drink and I left to go and fetch a Chinese takeaway and the Co-op on Portland Road. When I got back I just saw smoke and started to run towards the caravan.”
Mr Wilson, who works on the farm, had only been away from the caravan for 15 minutes.
He told the inquest that the heater had been on at all times for a couple of months prior to the blaze.
It had been turned on when he left Miss Syme in the caravan.
Dr Basil Purdue said the post mortem examination revealed that Miss Syme had 240 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millitres of blood. The legal limit is 80 milligrams.
He told the inquest: “The death of Victoria Syme was a result of inhalation of fire fumes with evidence of soot in the air passage.
“She was alive and breathing at the time of the fire.
“She may have been heavily asleep at the time.”
Fire investigation officer Steve Underhill said: “We believe the fire started after a halogen heater was left near flammable materials, in this case clothes.
“These clothes ignited and quickly caused the entire caravan to be involved in fire.”
He added that the blaze could also have been caused by a fault in the heater.
Coroner Payne told the inquest: “There were no signs that Miss Syme attempted to rescue herself although she was only two or three steps from the outside.
“The levels of alcohol in her blood would have reduced her ability to do so.
“The halogen heater had been in use for a couple of months and caused the fire either by igniting clothes nearby or due to a fault in the heater.
“The first explanation being the most likely.”
PANEL SPEAKING after the inquest Diane Narraway, Victoria's mother, said: “Vikki was a very beautiful person who lost her way.
“It was just two weeks before that we buried her dad who was an alcoholic.
“I would just urge other people who have problems with drink to stop if they can.
“If Vikki had been able to stop she would still be here.”
Tragic Vikki left behind her five-year-old daughter Naomi.
PANEL FOLLOWING the inquest, Dorset Fire and Rescue are warning about the dangers of Halogen heaters.
Fire investigation officer Steve Underhill said: “Avon Fire and Rescue Service have seen three deaths with a similar cause in the last 18 months.
“I strongly urge anyone using a halogen heater to think about what is around the heater and make sure any clothes or other flammable materials are at least one metre away.
“Also make sure you read the manufacturer's instructions which will include a safety briefing.”
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