A bed-ridden alcoholic died in a tragic fire at his home caused by a cigarette end he had flicked onto his carpet.
Alec John Connington’s body was so ‘extensively burned’ after the blaze at his rented flat on Manor Park Road, Manor, that it was identified through the serial number on a hip replacement.
An inquest at Sheffield Coroners Court heard the 54-year-old drank three litres of strong cider a day and had left a pile of at least 200 cigarette butts next to his bed.
The last person to see Alec alive was his carer and cousin, Debbie Thompson.
In a statement read out at the inquest, she said: “Alec doesn’t even move to put his cigarettes out. I have told him how dangerous it could be but he wouldn’t listen.
“At some stage when I was there I went to borrow his lighter and I saw Alec flicking a cigarette end on the floor. That’s when I witnessed the pile of cigarette ends on the floor.
“When I left, Alec was sat up in bed, drinking his cider.”
The fire service was alerted to the fire just before 10pm on February 17.
They were at the scene within six minutes. By that time a neighbour of Mr Connington, Matthew Chamberlain, had already made sure the neighbouring flats were evacuated. The inquest heard he tried to enter Mr Connington’s bedroom but the smoke forced him out.
South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue station manager Simon Rodgers, who investigated the cause of the fire, said: “There were literally dozens of cider bottles and on the far side of the bed there was the pile of cigarettes - I would say at least 200 cigarettes.”
Recording a verdict of accidental death, Coroner Julian Fox said: “It serves as a further reminder of the dangers of smoking in bed.”
Mr Fox also commended Mr Chamberlain for making sure the other occupants of the building were able to make their way to safety.
Station manager Rodgers said afterwards: “No one deserves to die in these circumstances and ultimately any house fire death is preventable, regardless of any other factors which may have contributed to that person’s death.
“We want to call on our partners to do more to help us to identify those who are most at risk of fire, so we can put useful measures in place to try to prevent this kind of tragic incident.”