Gran died after traditional shawl ignited on gas fire

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An elderly grandmother died from severe burns after her shawl caught fire as she was warming herself in front of the fire at home.

Mrs Said Begum (76) was standing on the fireplace, close to the gas fire, at her home in Victoria Gardens, Barrowford, on January 15th when the shawl, traditionally known as a dupatta, caught fire.

An inquest at Burnley Coroner’s Court heard how the flames quickly spread to the rest of Mrs Begum’s clothing as she ran from the lounge to the hallway screaming for help.

Her shocked family, who were not in the room at the time, rushed her to Burnley General Hospital before she was transferred to a specialist burns unit at Whythenshawe Hospital where she died from her injuries two days later.

Mrs Begum’s grandson told the inquest in a statement that his grandmother suffered from a number of health issues and needed help on a daily basis.

He said she would often stand close to the fire to warm herself.

Fire accident investigator, watch manager Malcolm Dewhurst, said: “The fire service were not called at the time and so I had to look at whatever evidence was available.

“Unfortunately, Mrs Begum’s family had already disposed of the clothing in question but they did provide me with similar clothing.

“The clothing was predominantly cotton, which is renowned for being highly flammable.

“The shawl or scarf, placed over Mrs Begum’s shoulder, had tassles on which would have ignited very easilt.

“The tunic, scarf and veil were loosely fitting and would also very easily catch fire.

“Moving from the lounge to the hallway, as Mrs Begum did, would fuel and develop the fire as it would give it extra oxygen.

“The fire service always advises that, should someone’s clothing catch fire, the best course of action is to stop, drop and roll.”

Specialist registrar at Whythenshawe Hospital Dr Adeyinka Molajo said Mrs Begum had died from multiple organ failure as a result of significant burn injuries.

East Lancashire Coroner Mr Richard Taylor, recording a conclusion of accidental death, said: “Mrs Begum died from injuries sustained after her clothing caught fire at her home when she appears to have stood too close to the gas fire.”