Tributes paid to 'caring dad' who died after fire at Sheffield home

A family has paid a moving tribute to a ‘caring dad’ who died following a fire at his home in Sheffield.

Thursday, 31st October 2019, 4:05 pm

Raymond Greaves was found collapsed outside his home on New Cross Drive, in Woodhouse, and the 78-year-old was pronounced dead at the scene.

The fire on the morning of March 15 this year is believed to have started after clothes were placed too close to a gas fire at the house, an inquest at Sheffield Coroner’s Court heard today.

A coroner concluded that Mr Greaves died of existing heart disease but this may have been exacerbated by the stress of dealing with the blaze.

Police outside Raymond Greaves' home on New Cross Drive, in Woodhouse, where he was found dead after a fire broke out on March 15 this year (pic: Steve Ellis)

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Mr Greaves, who had four children, eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, grew up in Attercliffe before moving to Woodhouse more than 50 years ago. He had various jobs which included working at a foundry, as a painter/decorator and as a window cleaner.

Speaking during the inquest, his son Mark Greaves and daughter Cheryl Burnside said: “He was a caring dad. There were four of us and during early life things were a little bit tough and he had to do two or three jobs to keep the family together.

“Towards the latter end – since our mother died, three years before the fire – he really did suffer. He never got over her death. They were never apart.”

The inquest heard how Mr Greaves had a multitude of health problems in his later years, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart disease and kidney disease, and he also suffered from panic attacks.

Pathologist Dr Julian Burton, who conducted the autopsy, said one of Mr Greaves’ main arteries was severely narrowed, and he gave the probable cause of death as ‘ischemic heart disease with a background of COPD’.

He told how there was no evidence of the signs one would expect had his death been directly caused by the fire, such as burns or soot in the airways, but he said sudden stress could lead to irregularities with the heart.

A report by South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue described how firefighters had been called just after 5.30am that morning and arrived to find Mr Greaves collapsed outside, unconscious and not breathing. They began CPR but he was pronounced dead when paramedics arrived.

Fire investigator Robert Holmes, who wrote the report, said the fire started in the dining room and was believed to have been caused when an airer was placed too close to a gas fire, igniting the clothes drying upon it.

He added that it was thought Mr Greaves then knocked the gas fire to the ground during his efforts to extinguish the blaze.

Assistant coroner Katy Dickinson, who recorded a narrative conclusion, said: “Mr Greaves died on Friday, March 15, following an accidental fire at his home address that day.

“On balance, the fire is likely to have increased the stress on his heart. Stress is a known risk to underlying heart disease. Mr Greaves died from his heart disease.”