Bed-bound elderly woman with lung cancer died in Kentish Town house fire started by cigarette

Valerie Willis was found dead at her home in Kentish Town after a fire

Valerie Willis was found dead at her home in Kentish Town after a fire - Credit: Archant

A fire which killed an elderly woman as she lay in her bed was started accidentally, an inquest has heard.

Valerie Willis (pictured), 74, who was terminally ill and bed-bound with lung cancer, was killed in a fire started by a carelessly discarded cigarette in her ground-floor council flat in Countess Road, Kentish Town, on April 18.

The court heard that there were no smoke alarms fitted in Ms Willis’s flat as she had removed them.

Amecie Steadman, of Camden Council’s adult social care service, said that she “would expect a vulnerable person to be identified at risk from fire” by the council’s housing team and to have received a visit from the fire brigade to talk about smoke detectors.

Firefighters were called to the flat after a neighbour spotted white smoke billowing from the door. They started to put out the flames before spotting Ms Willis lying on the mattress, but she was already dead.

Deputy coroner Selina Lynch recorded a verdict of accidental death at St Pancras Coroner’s Court on Thursday, saying she hoped “progress is made to ensure everyone has a working smoke detector in their home”.

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