Woman died smoking in bed

By Rebecca Malcolm of the Rotorua Daily Post -
Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

Deena Borell's habit of smoking in bed probably cost her her life.

Now Rotorua Coroner Dr Wallace Bain is warning others who smoke in bed to think about the consequences before lighting up.

Miss Borell died of smoke inhalation and extensive burns after she couldn't escape from a Clayton Rd house fire in April 2011.

Firefighters and passers-by were unable to reach Miss Borell until it was too late, but six others escaped.

At an inquest into her death today, Dr Bain said while he wasn't being critical, he wanted to point out the dangers of smoking in bed.

There was a real risk of ash dropping onto the bed, or the person "nodding off".

It was also a reminder to have working smoke alarms. Miss Borell had only moved into the house two days before the fire, and didn't have any smoke alarms.

Specialist fire investigator Stu Craddock told the inquest that the fire had been recorded as undetermined but that there was only one possible cause of the fire identified - that she may have been smoking in bed and accidentally dropped the cigarette onto the bed then fallen asleep.

Mr Craddock said fire crews were confronted with a "well-involved" fire when they went into the house and said by the time they found Miss Borell's body, lying face down partially in the wardrobe, it was obvious she had died.

He said others in the house had tried to extinguish the fire in the bedroom with pots of water, but were unsuccessful.

Detective Constable Russell Bell said toxicology results showed there was a 20 per cent saturation of carbon monoxide in Miss Borell's blood.

The cause of death was established as smoke inhalation and extensive burns.

Miss Borell's partner and two other family members were at the hearing, but did not speak.

Dr Bain reserved his findings.

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