Old electric blanket fire led to death of pensioner.
AN OLD electric blanket started a fire which killed a pensioner, an inquest has heard.
Carole Bridge, 73, thought she had extinguished the blaze which burnt a hole in her bed, and discarded the pink electric blanket. However, the blanket was still smouldering and burnt through the carpet, floorboards and joists. miss Bridge became overwhelmed by fumes and died in bed at her Stanley home.
Senior Coroner Andrew Tweddle reiterated the Electrical Safety Board's advice that electric blankets should be replaced after 10 years, after it emerged that miss Bridge's electric blanket must have been at least 36 years old.
The worn blanket which started the smouldering fire was manufactured by Crater, a company which went into liquidation in 1980, Stewart Thew, assistant district manager for Derwentside at County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue said.
miss Bridge was frail and visually impaired, the inquest at Durham Coroner's Court was told. She was well known in the tightknit community in South Stanley and had lived on Tweed Terrace all of her life.
The inquest heard miss Bridge regularly used the electric blanket to warm up the bedding while she had a drink of whisky before bed, despite her neighbour's warnings.
mr Thew said miss Bridge discovered the fire on the evening on February 29 and had poured water on to the bed to extinguish the flames.
At some point she moved the blanket on to the landing floor where it continued to burn as she went to bed.
The fire burned for at least three hours, mr Thew said, releasing a high amount of carbon dioxide.
mr Tweddle concluded miss Bridge died an accidental death.
He said: "The source of the fire was this old and probably dangerous electric blanket which would have been over 36 years old at least."
He praised the fire service's free safety and wellbeing visits.
He said: "I find it useful and encouraging the fire service are able to give support to the wider public on fire and general safety advice."
To arrange a safety visit in County Durham call 0845 2234221.
<BCarole Bridge, who died in a house fire at her Stanley home