Fatal Sheffield fire blamed on faulty heater

Richard Hobson died in a house fire in Beighton.
Richard Hobson died in a house fire in Beighton.
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A fire which killed a Sheffield man as he slept was caused by a faulty gas heater, fire investigators believe.

Richard Hobson, of Poplar Avenue, Beighton, died in a severe blaze which ripped through the roof of the house on Monday afternoon.

Investigators revealed the semi-detached home, which Mr Hobson shared with his mother, Kathleen, and sister, Anne, was not fitted with smoke alarms.

Two teenage neighbours – Tom Thornton, 18, and his 15-year-old brother Jamie – raised the alarm and battled the flames in vain while they waited for firefighters to arrive.

They also cared for 88-year-old Kathleen, who they found in tears outside the front of the house.

Station officer Andy Strelczenie, of South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue’s Darnall station, said: “They did the right thing. They put the call in as soon as they found it, they looked after the lady and they gave the right information on the phone which aided our route to the property.

“When crews arrived, they were faced with a severe fire with very punishing conditions for the firefighters.

“It had severely affected the upstairs of the property, so much so it burned through the roof and the ceiling tiles have fallen in.”

Six firefighters wearing breathing apparatus entered the home to try to save Richard, who was having a lie down after finishing a shift at work as a forklift truck driver.

Mr Strelczenie said: “Sadly we were unable to save the man who was located in a first-floor bedroom.

“There were no smoke alarms fitted in this property. It’s difficult for me to say whether this would have made the situation any different, but there would have been a much earlier indication there was a problem.”

A number of appliances including gas heaters have been removed from the house for a full analysis.

Relatives of Kathleen and Anne are appealing for help in finding them a new home after the blaze.

The pair, who lost their possessions in the blaze, have been offered temporary bed and breakfast accommodation, but relatives want them to be able to continue living in Beighton.

Kathleen had lived in the rented property for more than 60 years and gave birth to all her children there.

n The help the Hobsons, email helpthehobsons@outlook.com