Blaze started by lit pipe led to man’s death

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First published in

A SECOND World War veteran died in his home in a fire started by his pipe, an inquest heard.

Oliver Minchin, 93, died at Preston Road, Abingdon, on January 26, after the blaze, Oxfordshire Coroner’s Court was told yesterday.

The court heard fire crews from Abingdon and Didcot arrived at the home at about 6pm after receiving two 999 calls.

Watch manager Mat Nind said the most probable cause of the fire was Mr Minchin dropping his lit pipe or tobacco on to his chair in the kitchen.

He added that a carbon monoxide alarm in the home activated, and that two pipes, a bag of tobacco and a knife were found on a silver trolley next to Mr Minchin, who had suffered severe burns.

Neighbour Monica Wreyford told the hearing in a statement that she visited Mr Minchin to give him his meals and that he had eaten cheese and biscuits at about 4pm.

At about 6pm her husband told her that Mr Minchin had set his house on fire.

Earlier this year she said Mr Minchin had served on battleships during the Second World War and survived two torpedo attacks.

Consultant pathologist Dr Lucy Winter, who carried out a post-mortem examination, said the cause of death was smoke inhalation and severe burns.

Mr Minchin, a retired accountant and widower, was also suffering from lung cancer but had told his GP he did not want it to be treated, the court was told.

Oxfordshire coroner Darren Salter recorded a verdict of accidental death. He said: “The most probable cause is the lit pipe or tobacco falling on to the fabric of the chair he was sitting on.”

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