Elderly woman died of natural causes before blaze in Amberley house

Fire at Hog Lane, Amberley SUS-150619-115443001
Fire at Hog Lane, Amberley SUS-150619-115443001

An elderly woman who was found dead in her Amberley home following a fire in June died of natural causes before the blaze ignited.

It is believed Elisabeth Belcher, 79, was smoking at the time of her death, and the fire in her Hog Lane home was started by the cigarette.

Her body was discovered by firefighters called to her house to extinguish the flames on Friday June 5.

Results of toxicology tests have revealed she did not die as a result of the blaze.

Richard Bradley, West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service fire investigation officer, said: “Tests carried out following the sad death of Mrs Belcher have shown that she died of natural causes.

“We know she was a heavy smoker and my assumption is that she was smoking at the time of her death, dropping the cigarette on either her clothing or the armchair she was sitting in.

“We do advise immobile smokers, or those caring for them, to purchase smoking cloaks, which can prevent clothing catching alight. Our home safety visits can also help anyone who is at risk.”

A spokesperson for the fire service said that although specialist fire prevention materials would not have prevented Mrs Belcher’s death, there are safety measures to protect elderly, frail or immobile smokers.

If you are concerned that your home may be at risk of fire, or you know someone who you think needs our help, you can request a home safety visit on 0845 872 9719.

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