Counterfeit Russian cigarettes caused fatal flat blaze

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A housebound Burnley man died in a fire after smoking counterfeit Russian cigarettes in bed.

James Thompson (57), of Kay Gardens, died from excessive burns after his bedding caught fire as he smoked a Russian Jin Ling cigarette.

Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service Watch Manager Neil Hardiman told an inquest the Russian cigarettes were not fitted with reduced ignition propensity, as was standard in British-made cigarettes, which would have prevented them from burning their entire length.

The pillow, pillowcases and duvet were made from a synthetic material and had been totally destroyed in the fire, which had burned itself out very quickly, he said.

Mr Thompson was wheelchair bound and had had a stroke about 10 years ago, the hearing was told.

Neighbour Margaret Anforth said in a statement she had heard smoke and heat alarms in Mr Thompson’s flat but thought the noise was from a car alarm and only realised there was a fire when she found smoke in her own kitchen. She alerted the emergency services.

Main carer Diane Derbyshire told the hearing she had known Mr Thompson for 18 months and had told him about the dangers of smoking in bed, but she did not have the powers to take his cigarettes from him.

East Lancashire Coroner Mr Richard Taylor asked authorities such as the fire and rescue service and Lancashire County Council to talk to each other about risk assessments in circumstances similar to Mr Thompson’s.

He said Mr Thompson had been determined to smoke in bed, despite being told not to and warned of the dangers. He reached a conclusion Mr Thompson’s death was accidental.