Man died after lighter ignited in car

A MAN died after his car was engulfed in flames when a lighter was dropped on its passenger seat, an inquest heard.

Richard Read, of South Crescent Close, Filey, suffered severe burns after his Hyundai Getz vehicle set ablaze in October last year.

The inquest, at Scarborough Magistrates’ Court, heard Mr Read, a 61-year-old financial administrator, escaped the burning vehicle but died days later from bronchopnemonia and the effects of smoke inhalation.

The court heard a lighter was the probable cause of the fire after it burned on the seat.

Mr Read, who the court was told smoked in his car every night, was rushed to Pinderfields Hospital, in Wakefield, for treatment, where he also suffered a stroke.

The inquest heard from witness Geoffrey Prior, of Grove Road, Filey, who was at a friend’s house when they heard a loud noise and saw the car on fire.

He said: “We heard quite an explosion outside which we thought was a firework.

“It was then I saw a car blazing in the car park.

“I sprinted down the steps and went outside and I saw him lying outside his vehicle.

“His foot was more or less touching the vehicle as if he had fallen out of the car.”

Mr Prior told the inquest Mr Read’s leg was on fire and put out the flames with his bare hands – burning himself in the process.

He added: “I managed to drag him from his vehicle but he was on fire.

“I dragged him further and looked around to get something to put the flames out with but in the end I patted them out with my hands.

“Another man came out from the flats and I managed to get him further away from the car, but all he kept saying was that he wanted to get into his flat.

“I told him he couldn’t move until the medics arrived and I got some cold towels for his legs.

“He didn’t seem to be in pain, I pulled him by his arm and he had a terrific grip on me.

“He knew where he was and was conscious, but was in a bad way.”

The inquest also heard from fire investigator Phil Whild, who said a Zippo-style lighter was the probable cause, due to its ability to continuously burn unlike a gas lighter.

He said: “It is clear from the evidence that in the debris of the passenger side was an open Zippo lighter.

“Car fires tend to generate very rapidly and if a lighter like that is not moved from a car seat quickly it is likely to catch fire.

“With it being an open flame source it would take a short while to ignite in its surroundings.

“Zippo lighters have the ability to burn when dropped.”

Coroner Michael Oakley recorded a verdict of accidental death.

He added: “He has clearly been trying to use a lighter in his car and it appears it was probably to light a pipe.

“For some reason this has dropped and caused the fire which has quickly engulfed the car.

“He has been taken to hospital and it is apparent that he has suffered a stroke.

“He has died from the effects of the fire.”