Coroner issues heater warning

Written By miftah nugraha on Selasa, 20 Agustus 2013 | 19.55

THE death of a 78-year-old man in a house fire has prompted a warning from a coroner about the risks of placing flammable material near heat sources.

Walter Charles Bakes, of Burnie, died of smoke inhalation in a house fire in Reid St, Burnie, on February 23, 2011.

Coroner Don Jones found it was highly probable the fire had started in the corner of Mr Bakes' kitchen, within a half metre radius of a portable radiant heater.

The coroner said Mr Bakes' son Grahame said his father often felt cold and would sit in a chair in the kitchen in front of a wood heater or an electric heater.

"Grahame had expressed his concerns to his father as to the risk of the heater being left unattended, or leaving his chair too close to the heater," the coroner said.

"Mr Bakes would express his annoyance saying he did not like his heater turned off, or people interfering with his way of life."

Coroner Jones found Mr Bakes' cause of death was asphyxia due to smoke inhalation as a result of the house fire and that severe atherosclerotic vascular disease, cerebrovascular disease, chronic pancreatitis, and emphysema were contributing factors.

He recommended people be made more aware of the risks of placing flammable objects near fires or electric heaters.

"It is recommended the public be informed of the dangers of placing furniture, or any combustible material, in close proximity to heaters or fires generally," the coroner said.

"Frequently, material used in furniture, or blankets, or clothing are susceptible to absorbing heat from heat sources, smouldering, and then spontaneously combusting.

"Many older people frequently resort to keeping warm by sitting over, or too close to, fire sources not realising the potentially dangerous situation they are placing themselves in."


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