A Crawley woman died from carbon monoxide poisoning hours before she was due to host a New Year’s Eve party, an inquest has heard.
Maria Woodhead, of Banks Road, in Pound Hill, passed away outside her home on December 31 2013.
Her son Joe, who she lived with, had returned to the house at around noon that day to find a lot of water, a haze of smoke and the smell of burning plastic, said the coroner’s officer at an inquest in Horsham yesterday (Tuesday April 29).
He went upstairs and discovered his mother laying face-down on her bed struggling to breathe.
Joe called 999 and was instructed to carry out CPR.
Emergency services including an air ambulance were initially called to reports of a water tank that had exploded – though that was eventually ruled out – and arrived on the scene shortly after.
Paramedics moved Ms Woodhead outside and performed life-saving techniques on her. But despite their efforts, she was pronounced dead at around 1.20pm.
Fire investigator Daniel Matthews returned to the scene on January 1.
He found the fire to have started in an electrical junction box in the upstairs airing cupboard. In a statement read out in court, he said the fire had smouldered through the floorboards.
Mr Matthews called the home’s electrical installation ‘far from ideal’ and ‘unsafe’ in some parts of the house.
Heat ruptured water pipes which eventually led to the fire being extinguished.
A smoke detector was found but appeared to contain no batteries.
Mr Matthews found the cause of the fire to be an electrical fault.
He found no evidence of foul play.
The inquest heard how Ms Woodhead suffered with mental health problems and had made several attempts on her own life in the past.
But she was said to be in a good place recently and assistant coroner Joe Turner ruled out a conclusion of taking her own life.
Mr Turner recorded an open conclusion, adding: “It’s clearly a very tragic incident.”