‘Inferno’ from faulty deep fat fryer caused elderly Doncaster man’s death

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An elderly man lost his life in a Doncaster house fire after his faulty deep fat fryer ‘exploded’ and caught light as he slept, an inquest heard.

Doncaster Coroners’ Court was told how on the evening of Boxing Day last year, Alan Tabor had left his deep fat fryer turned on in the kitchen of his home in Beckett Road, Wheatley, as he fell asleep in a chair in his living room.

Just after 9pm that night, his next door neighbour Robert Huddleston told the court that he heard a ‘huge bang,’ and went into his back garden to see what had caused it.

After not being able to see anything out of the ordinary, Mr Huddleston returned to his property, and was disturbed moments later by a group of teenagers on bike who knocked on his door and told him they had seen an ‘explosion’ next door.

Mr Huddleston said: “They asked me can you smell smoke, and at that point I could so I went out to the back garden again and I looked into his kitchen window and could see an inferno coming from his kitchen. I called into my wife and told her to call the emergency services.

“The kids were in his back garden by that point and I told them to keep back from the windows because I could tell they were about to go at any second.”

Firefighters arrived on the scene shortly after, and set about rescuing Mr Tabor and extinguishing the ‘severe’ blaze.

The court was told how Mr Tabor was in a state of cardiac arrest when he was rescued from the fire, and despite the best efforts of paramedics on the scene and doctors at Doncaster Royal Infirmary the former painter passed away at around 10.15pm.

A report submitted to the court by pathologist Dr Mehari Muzaffar confirmed that Mr Tabor had died from inhaling ‘toxic’ smoke fumes, which contained traces of cyanide. The court was told that the smoke from the fire contained toxic fumes as a result of plastic items in Mr Tabor’s kitchen, including the work units and appliances such as a toaster and microwave being burnt in the blaze.

Fire investigator, Andrew Strelczenie, said the fire had been caused by Mr Tabor’s faulty deep fat fryer and had passed quickly through the kitchen, into the dining room and through to the living room because of the doors being left open.

He told the court: “It is not clear whether Mr Tabor knew that the deep fat fryer had a fault and had continued to use it anyway, or if it was unknown to him. I would encourage people to make sure that appliances are turned off and that all doors are closed as part of their bedroom routine.”

Senior Coroner Nicola Mundy told the inquest she believed Mr Tabor had been asleep when the blaze broke out, due to him remaining in the living room, and recorded a conclusion of accidental death.