South Yorkshire fire bosses back coroner’s plea after two-year-old dies in blaze

Libby-Jayne Hornsby died in a blaze at her home in Conisbrough.
Libby-Jayne Hornsby died in a blaze at her home in Conisbrough.
Have your say

Fire service bosses have welcomed a coroner’s plea for new laws requiring smoke alarms in all privately-rented homes, following the death of Libby-Jayne Hornsby.

The two-year-old died in a fire at her home on Don Street, Conisbrough, last October. Fire investigators found no working smoke alarms, an inquest heard.

Recording a verdict of accidental death as a result of smoke inhalation, coroner Nicola Mundy said: “I am very concerned about the lack of legislation regarding smoke alarms in rented properties and will be writing to relevant agencies in the hope some steps can be taken to ensure smoke alarms must be present.”

South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service area manager Michael Mason said afterwards: “We’re pleased. Fire services nationally have been campaigning on this issue for some time.”

The Chief Fire Officers Association has been lobbying on the issue for more than two years and the Energy Act, which was given Royal Assent in December, already includes an amendment which would make smoke and carbon monoxide alarms a legal requirement in private rentals.

But the Government is reviewing technical issues and related legislation before making a final decision.

The Doncaster inquest into Libby-Jayne’s death heard another child playing with a cigarette lighter started the house fire that killed her.

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.

Five disposable lighters were around the house, all within reach of children.

Within minutes a fire had started, and Libby-Jayne’s first-floor bedroom was engulfed with flames and thick smoke.

A post-mortem examination found 70 per cent of her body had been burned, but it was ‘thick noxious’ smoke which killed her.