COUNTY NEWS: Warning to all smokers after fatal cottage fire

A FIRE which claimed the life of a woman in Amberley on Friday (June 5) is believed to have sparked accidentally by smoking materials.

Monday, 8th June 2015, 12:35 pm
Fire and rescue and police investigating the scene of the fire in Amberley SUS-150606-132436001

The tragedy happened at a detached thatched cottage in Hog Lane, just after 4.20pm.

A crew from Storrington rushed to the scene, arriving within 13 minutes of the 999 call, followed by further crews from Chichester, Littlehampton, Arundel and Worthing.

On arrival firefighters were presented with a well-developed fire on the ground floor of the cottage.

A team wearing breathing apparatus entered the property to find the occupier, a woman in her 70s who has not yet been officially named but identified locally as Elisabeth Belcher, in the smoke-logged living room.

She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Today (June 8), fire investigation officer Lee Spencer-Smith said: “Following a joint investigation with Sussex Police we believe the fire to have started accidentally, in this case by smoking materials. This is a very sad way for this lady’s life to end and our thoughts are with her family at this time.”

The service has now issued a warning to smokers to be cautious when they spark up.

“Smoking is still the biggest cause of death in accidental house fires here in West Sussex and nationally,” said Lee. “The most important piece of advice we can offer to smokers is to ensure that they use an ashtray and extinguish their cigarettes fully when they have finished smoking.

“Sadly, the lady in this case had very limited mobility.”

He added the service was ‘working hard’ with partner agencies to try and protect the area’s most vulnerable.

He is appealing for those who know a family member or someone within the community who may be at increased risk from fire ti contact the fire service on 0845 872 9719 or by visiting here.

For advice and support on quitting smoking call 0300 100 1823 or click here.

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