Fire that killed South Yorkshire toddler started by another child

Libby-Jayne Hornsby, who has tragically died following a house fire in Conisbrough.
Libby-Jayne Hornsby, who has tragically died following a house fire in Conisbrough.
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Another child playing with a cigarette lighter started a house fire that killed a two-year-old girl, an inquest heard yesterday.

Libby-Jane Hornsby died of smoke inhalation in the blaze which ripped through her home in Don Street, Conisbrough, while she was asleep.

Mum Kelly Hambrey was practising with her majorette band when the fire started at around 7.20pm on October 17 last year, and had left a teenager to babysit.

Another child – who cannot be named for legal reasons – picked up a cigarette lighter and started playing with it, the inquest was told.

The Doncaster court heard five disposable lighters were around the house, all within reach of children.

Within minutes a fire had started on the bed, and the first-floor room was engulfed with flames and thick smoke.

A post-mortem examination carried out after Libby’s death revealed 70 per cent of her body had been burned in the fire, which experts believe would have reached around 200 degrees Celsius.

But it was the ‘thick and noxious’ smoke which killed the infant.

The teenage babysitter, who also cannot be named, said he ran upstairs as soon as he was alerted, but ‘couldn’t get close to the bedroom door’. “I could see flames hitting the roof,” he said.

Brave neighbour Gary Keeling also tried to get in to save Libby, who was trapped in the bedroom.

“I could hear burning, things cracking, things falling. But I could not see because of the smoke. Soot was falling down like snow on my bare flesh,” he said.

Firemen using breathing apparatus managed to pull Libby out of the house.

She was taken immediately to Rotherham Hospital but could not be resuscitated.

Recording a conclusion of accidental death as a result of smoke inhalation, Coroner Nicola Mundy also raised concerns there were no smoke alarms in the house, and said she would write to the Chief Fire Officers’ Association about the fact there is no legislation which requires private landlords to provide the life-saving devices.