Mum killed in horror blaze started by children playing with a lighter, coroner rules

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A mum was tragically killed in a fire started by a child who was playing with a lighter, an inquest has found.

Chloe Doggett was staying at a home in Tonypandy, Rhondda Valleys, Wales, on September 21, last year when she became trapped by the blaze.

Firefighters were able to pull the 28-year-old from the burning property as flames ripped through the top floor of the house.

Despite the best efforts of medics, they were unable to save her and she was pronounced dead on September 24.

Local police initially questioned Chloe’s boyfriend over the incident, but a criminal investigation was dropped after one of her children admitted accidentally starting the blaze.

In a statement read to Pontypridd Coroner’s Court on Wednesday, Detective Constable Stacey Vincent, who interviewed the child, confirmed they “described starting the fire and using a lighter”.

Detective Vincent said she was also aware the child had told a family member they had set fire to a “teddy bear”.

The coroner was told that all of the adults in the house were smokers and that there were a number of lighters throughout the property.

Fire safety manager Stephen Morgan told the court that an investigation confirmed the fire had been started in the child’s bedroom.

The inquest also tragically heard how there were no fire alarms or other fire safety equipment in the house.

Those inside the house were completely unaware of the fire until members of the public told them they could see black smoke billowing from the top floor windows.

When the first call to the fire service was put in at 4:37pm, Chloe and her boyfriend were in his bedroom, with Chloe on facetime to a friend, Philippa Stevens.

Philippa said that she heard another woman shouting and a man shouting Chloe’s name before Chloe ran to the door.

Her boyfriend saw a child in the room opposite, which was engulfed in flames.

He said: “My natural instinct was to run through the fire and grab the child.

“I didn’t realise Chloe was still in the bedroom until I got outside.”

An off-duty firefighter and several others tried to rescue Chloe, but couldn’t get to her.

Analysis of Chloe’s arms and body and her blood on the window found that she had tried to break the window open to escape, but failed.

Assistant coroner Gaynor Kynaston said: “I accept and find that the fire was started in bedroom two and that the fire was started by a child playing with a cigarette lighter.

“Despite her attempts to escape the scene, Chloe was rendered unconscious by smoke inhalation.”

Mrs Kynaston ruled Ms Doggett’s death was an accident.

To Ms Doggett’s family, she said: “It is quite obvious from the number of people in court that she was very well loved by you all and will be greatly missed by you and her children.

“This is a tragic, tragic death and one that will stay with me.”

Neighbours described thick black smoke billowing from the home as the tragedy unfolded in the tight-knit community.

Elwydd Jeffrey said: “I’ve never seen such black smoke, it was awful. I could hardly see through the window because the smoke was so dense.”

Chloe’s heartbroken friends have raised over £3,600 in her memory.

One friend said: “You were the kindest soul I’ve ever met too beautiful and kind for this world!

“Maybe it’s true what they say, God takes the best ones first! You were so loved by everyone who had the pleasure of meeting you!

“Fly high you amazing girl, until we meet again angel.”