Girl, 3, died in house fire made worse by piles of clutter around family home that made 'normal living virtually impossible'Doors in house could not be closed because of clutter in the wayGrandmother describes girl as 'a non-stop bundle of energy'
Amelia Brown died as a result of smoke inhalation
19:20 GMT, 30 November 2012
A three year old girl died in a house fire made worse by piles of clutter which set alight and created toxic smoke that overwhelmed her.
Amelia Brown was in a first floor bedroom of her home in Grinacombe Moor near Lifton, Devon, when the house caught fire last December.
Firefighters were beaten back by the fierce blaze which melted the plastic visors of their helmets and they were unable to recover the little girl’s body until the next day.
Tragic: Three-year-old Amelia Brown died in the house fire fuelled by piles of clutter strewn around her family home, an inquest heard
Clutter: The fire, started in the kitchen, was 'accelerated' by the hoards of combustible furniture, clothes and bric-a-brac
An inquest in Bideford, Devon, heard the cottage had been full of clutter much of which belonged to her grandmother Stephanie Brown and that smoke alarms were not fitted in the house.
Mrs Brown owned the property, which was full of clothes and furniture, but lived across the road.
Det Sgt Barry Mitchell said: 'I saw an
extraordinary amount of hoarding and rubbish. It would have made moving
around the property very difficult and would have made what I would call
normal living activity virtually impossible.'
Amelia's grandfather David, who was babysitting managed to escape but she was overcome by fumes and died of smoke inhalation
Devon and Somerset Fire service investigator George Setter said doors could not be closed because of clutter and that Amelia’s door could not be closed because of clothes, household goods and material in the way.
He said: ‘The unusually excessive amount of combustible materials’ led to the fierce fire which generated large amounts of toxic smoke affecting all parts of the property’.
Mrs Brown, in her 60s, admitted the
property was cluttered saying: 'I’m a great one for make do and mend.
While it may have looked shabby, it was functional.'
late husband David had been babysitting while Amelia's mother
Abigail was out at a pre-school fundraiser that evening and she added: 'Amelia
was everything to Abigail. We all doted on her.
'She was a non stop
bundle of energy, very curious and always asked questions, very eager to
'But she also loved dressing up,
dancing and singing. She loved flowers and animals and died with her pet
cat who she had only had for a month but she really loved him.
'Everyone did what they could but it
all happened so quickly. We have been told that anyone who suffers smoke
inhalation is not aware of it. It is very quick and very gentle and we
take some small comfort in the fact that Amelia will not have suffered.'
Mrs Brown said they will probably never know what sparked the fire which is thought to have started in the kitchen.
The inquest into her death heard there was so much junk that some internal doors could not be closed, including the one in Amelia's bedroom
She said: 'There were no naked flames
or electrical appliances left on. We did not have smoke detectors but
neither do many old cottages.
'We will never forget the beautiful, bright little girl who never stopped telling us she loved us.'
Deputy Devon coroner John Tomalin said Amelia died from smoke inhalation and recorded an accidental death verdict.
He said: 'It’s accepted by all that there was a large number of items in each room. This was to the extent that internal doors could not be closed.'