Terminally ill man died in his chair before his cigarette started a blaze

Daily Echo: Cancer patient died before fire broke out Cancer patient died before fire broke out

A TERMINALLY ill cancer patient found charred in his armchair may have died before his burning cigarette sparked the fire, an inquest heard.

As previously reported, fire crews found Roger Shears dead after a fire broke out in the lounge of his first floor flat in Townhill Park in Southampton.

A fire investigation then found that a lit cigarette had rolled down the back of his chair. But pathologist Dr Vipul Foria who carried out a post-mortem examination on Mr Shears found no signs of breathing in smoke.

He said: “I would have expected soot to be present in the airways and the absence suggests he had died of natural causes.”

The coroners’ court heard how Mr Shears, who lived alone in his flat in Dyneley Green when the fire broke out on September 26 of this year, was found to be suffering from tumors in his lung and kidney. The 69-year-old had been receiving care at home and in the weeks before his death had not been expected to live long. Southampton Coroner Keith Wiseman ruled that Mr Shears had died of natural causes. As reported, neighbours described thick, black smoke swirling round the closed windows of the stricken flat. Other residents of flats in the building evacuated themselves, and the road was closed until 10.10pm.

A cordon was put up as the police carried out an arson investigation, but later the next day they concluded the fire was accidental.

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