Gas blast death of Nelson man (27) was ‘freak accident’
A FREAK gas cylinder explosion led to the death of a young man from Nelson.
Mr Jeffrey Chadwick (27) suffered horrific burns and internal damage to his body following the explosion in the back yard of his home in Princess Street, Nelson, last September.
An inquest at Burnley Coroner’s Court heard how the Calor butane gas cylinder, which Mr Chadwick believed was empty, exploded when it was ignited by the lit gas fire inside the house.
Specialist evidence was given by Lancashire Fire Service intelligence officer Steve Green who investigated the tragic accident.
He said that the likely cause of the accident, which also resulted in a number of small fires, was the gas travelling along the ground until it found an ignition that he believed was the gas fire.
He said: “Mr Chadwick must have opened the cylinder, believing it was empty, which released the gas. It hugs the ground and flows like water.
“A naked flame could ignite the gas but it has to be within the right volume in the air. The butane gas was in liquid form and it wouldn’t take a vast amount to create a gas cloud.
“When the gas and air mixed it exploded in the yard. I believe Mr Chadwick would have been stood very near at the time.”
Mr Green also said two gases were involved – the butane and leaking gas from the home’s gas meter, although this may have been caused by the explosion. He believed the cylinder may have been there a number of years.
The accident happened around 7-40pm on September 7th last year. Mr Chadwick was taken to the Royal Blackburn Hospital but was later transferred to the specialist burns unit at Pinderfields Hospital, Wakefield. He sadly died there on September 18th.
Pathologist Dr Abdul Al-Dawoud, who conducted the post-mortem examination, said Mr Chadwick had suffered 46% burns including inhalation. He died from a condition called shock lung, a result of one of his lungs becoming severely inflamed.
Watch manager Dave Robinson, who attended the incident after a number of emergency calls from the public, also gave evidence at the hearing.
He said Mr Chadwick approached him when they arrived and was speaking in short sentences as he was clearly in a state of shock.
He added: “Mr Chadwick said something along the lines of ‘it was supposed to be empty’ which I took to mean the cylinder. He said he found it in the back yard.”
Recording a verdict of accidental death, East Lancashire Coroner Mr Richard Taylor said: “Sadly, we cannot go back far enough to discover what Mr Chadwick was doing with this thing.
“We have no explanation. This was a very, very tragic accident in most unusual circumstances.”
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