Sister’s alcohol warning after blaze tragedy

The Eastbourne sister of a woman who tragically died during a blaze at her home has warned about the dangers of drinking and smoking.

Linda Wyatt, 55, died in a fire which is thought to have been started by hungry mice who nibbled through the electrical flex of her fridge at her home.

Firefighters found Mrs Wyatt slumped against the fridge in her Tooting flat, Westminster Coroner’s Court heard. But it is believed she died before the flames took hold, the court was told.

Pathologist Dr Michael Heath said the absence of smoke inhalation suggested Ms Wyatt had been dead before the fire started.

“It is possible that Ms Wyatt had become intoxicated and had collapsed and then was overwhelmed by the fire,” he added. “I think on the balance of probabilities this is a natural cause with these secondary events going on, which is again coincidental.”

Coroner Fiona Wilcox said, ‘This has been quite a testing inquiry because we thought that this death was due to fire, but it would appear that she had a coronary artery event, perhaps on finding the fire, but there is no direct causal link between the fire.

The coroner found Ms Wyatt died of coronary artery disease. Ms Wyatt was a heavy drinker, a chain smoker and was taking medication for epilepsy.

Speaking at the end of the inquest her sister Georgina O’Leary said, “I am surprised she didn’t die before, but she was happy. If you keep drinking and smoking to the excess these people do, it will kill you – too much alcohol and too much smoking eventually kills you.

Miss O’Leary who had made the trip from her home in Heron Ridge, Polegate, said she thought her sister had died from smoke inhalation. It is nice for me to know that she actually probably went to sleep basically – for me it is closure,” she added.