Chip pan fire killed Corby man and his dog

A man and his dog died in their home after he left his chip pan on the hob, sparking a devastating fire.

Thursday, 3rd March 2016, 12:26 pm
Updated Thursday, 3rd March 2016, 12:34 pm
The scene of the fire in Brixham Walk

Another woman, who was in the early stages of pregnancy, had to jump from a first-floor window of the house in Brixham Walk, Corby, to escape the flames.

An inquest into the death of William Craig Robertson, known as Craig, heard that he was more than four times the drink-drive limit at the time of the fire on October 17 last year.

The court heard that Mr Robertson’s son Richard lived with his father. Richard his girlfriend Rachel Clark, had been in the house during the day after going out for breakfast in Corby Old Village.

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Miss Clark, who was 14 weeks pregnant, was tired so had a nap in the afternoon and Richard had decided to pop out to a friend’s house leaving Miss Clark in bed. She ordered a takeaway and could hear Mr Robertson, 46, downstairs watching rugby.

She then smelt chips cooking.

The smell became stronger so Miss Clark went to the bedroom door and was met with a wall of smoke.

In her evidence to the court, Miss Clark said: “I ran to the window and put my head out of it and phoned the emergency services.

“I couldn’t turn around because the room was filled with thick, black smoke.

“The person on the phone told me not to, but I knew I had to jump.

“I saw the porch and climbed on to it.”

Miss Clark was helped down by a neighbour and she immediately phoned her boyfriend Richard, who arrived on the scene minutes later.

Although the fire brigade were able to get into the house, they found Mr Robertson and his dog were already dead in the living room.

The court heard how Mr Robertson had struggled with alcohol issues for several years.

Pathologist Dr Stuart Hamilton, who performed the post-mortem, said that Mr Robertson was found to have 339mg of alcohol in his body. The legal driving limit is 80mg.

He also had an enlarged heart, possibly caused by high blood pressure, which could have resulted in his body struggling to cope with the high levels of carbon monoxide and cyanide from the fire. He died from smoke inhalation.

Fire Investigation Officer Kelvin Hallen said the fire was started by an unattended chip pan and he believed that burn marks on Mr Robertson’s body meant he had tried to extinguish the fire but had failed. He believed he had gone back into the living room to get his dog and had been overcome by the smoke. Two smoke alarms found in the property had not been fitted.

Coroner Anne Pember returned a verdict of accidental death.