Mentally ill woman ‘engulfed in flames’

Nottingham Council HouseNottingham Council House
Nottingham Council House
A mentally ill woman walked through a Mansfield Woodhouse care home setting fire to carpets as molten fabric dropped from her clothing, an inquest heard today (6th August),

Staff were alerted by the screams of another resident, but care workers said that 58-year-old resident Patricia Bryan did not make a sound as she was engulfed in the fireball.

Instead she ‘walked purposefully’ towards an outside smoking area, where staff caught up with her and put out the flames with a fire extinguisher, the inquest at Nottingham Council House was told.

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After the blaze, in which she received 68 per cent burns, she continued to walk around and then sat down outside and ‘rocked gently and mumbled to herself’, the inquest heard.

She died from her injuries seven hours later after being flown by air ambulance for specialist care at a hospital in Birmingham.

Ms Bryan had been a resident at the privately-owned Thistle Hill Hall home on Debdale Lane, when the incident happened on 9th March.

The tragedy triggered a multi-agency investigation involving the Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) police, social services, and the home.

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Former healthcare assistant Alex Robertson said he was first alerted to the problem by the screams of another resident who was in the room when Ms Bryan became engulfed in flames.

He described how he had run from an upstairs corridor and grabbed a fire extinguisher which he retrieved from an adjoining kitchen.

He said: “I heard a loud shout of ‘staff, staff’ repeatedly - it was very loud and very distressed and I realised that something was happening that needed my attention.

“It was Peggy, another resident’s voice, and as soon as I heard it I set off in that direction and as I made my way down the corridor I was with another worker and staff also came running out of the care office and we realised the shouts were coming from the activity room

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“Pat was on fire and she was walking towards the rear exit. The carpets were also on fire and I reached Pat just as she got to the bottom of the steps and I discharged the fire extinguisher at her.

“She had stopped walking and was just stood facing me.”

Mr Robertson then went back inside and put out the burning carpet, while Ms Bryan was given emergency first aid, the inquest heard.

No suicide note was found in her room. And a report by the HSE concluded that Miss Bryan had “accidentally set her clothes on fire while smoking.”

A report by fire officers concluded that “the likely cause was the naked flame of a disposable lighter igniting her clothing”, while police said they were not treating the death as suspicious.

The jury is expected to begin its deliberations tomorrow.