‘Bubbly’ mum-of-two killed in fire started by child playing with cigarette lighter
A house fire which killed a “kind” and “bubbly” mother-of-two was started by a child playing with a cigarette lighter, a coroner has ruled.
Chloe Doggett, 28, was staying at a house in Tonypandy in the Rhondda Valley, South Wales, on 21 September last year when she became trapped by the blaze.
Firefighters pulled her from the property, that had nine people inside when the fire started, as flames ripped through the top floor of the three-storey terraced house.
Despite attempts to save her, Ms Doggett died of a brain injury on 24 September at Morriston Hospital.
South Wales Police initially questioned Ms Doggett’s boyfriend over the incident but the criminal investigation was dropped after one of the children in the property admitted starting the fire by setting a “teddy bear” alight.
Paying tribute to Ms Doggett, her mum, Emma Doggett, said after the hearing: "She was just the most kind person who would do anything and help anyone.
“She would not see anyone struggle. She was really bubbly and went through a lot with her children through no fault of her own. She was a good mother.”
All the adults in the house at the time of the fire were smokers and the coroner was told numerous lighters and ashtrays were found throughout the property.
Fire safety manager Stephen Morgan told the court an investigation by the fire service into the cause of the fire found it had started in the children’s bedroom and was most probably caused by a naked flame being placed against a combustible material.
The court also heard there were no fire alarms or other fire safety equipment in the house, and those inside were unaware of the fire until members of the public told them they could see black smoke billowing from the top floor windows.
At the same time of the first call to the fire service at 4.37pm, Ms Doggett and her boyfriend were in his bedroom on the top floor, and Ms Doggett was on FaceTime call to her best friend Philippa Stevens.
Ms Stevens said in a statement that “Chloe was happy in herself” but then she heard what sounded like a woman shouting and then a man shouting “Chloe”.
She said Ms Doggett got up from the bed and appeared to move towards the door “with intensity”, tossing her phone to ground.
Ms Doggett’s boyfriend told the court that after hearing the shouting he opened the bedroom door and instantly noticed smoke.
He said he saw a child in the room opposite which was becoming engulfed by flames, and 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 other men joined him in trying to rescue Ms Doggett but they were unable to get up the stairs due to black smoke covering the landing.
Attempts were made to break the bedroom window from the outside using a paint can, hammer and step-ladder, but they were unsuccessful.
Ms Doggett had managed to remove the secondary double-glazing unit, cutting herself in the process, before becoming unconscious from severe smoke inhalation, the coroner concluded.
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.”
Kynaston ruled Ms Doggett’s death was an accident.