House fire that led to deaths of woman and three cats caused by smoking materials

A house fire in Rugeley which caused the deaths of a woman and three cats started accidentally as a result of smoking materials.

The fatal fire in Rugeley was sparked by smoking materials
The fatal fire in Rugeley was sparked by smoking materials

Fire crews were called to the fatal fire at an address on Gorseburn Way just before 10.45pm on Tuesday.

A woman, in her 60s, and three cats, were confirmed dead at the scene.

A fire investigation later confirmed that the fire was started by discarded smoking materials.

The fatal fire in Rugeley was sparked by smoking materials

Russ Brown, station manager at Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “This is an extremely tragic incident and our thoughts are with the woman’s family and friends during this difficult time.

“If you smoke in your home, we would urge you to be cautious and make sure your cigarette is fully extinguished and carefully disposed of.

“Never smoke in bed as you could easily doze off and set your bed on fire. Always use a proper ashtray which is made of material which can’t burn or tip over.

“Keep matches and lighters away from children – consider buying child resistant lighters and match boxes to reduce the risk.”

The day after the fatal fire, neighbours recalled what had happened.

Carol Preston said: "I'd not met her, but I know she moved in about three or four weeks ago, then went to hospital after a fall a few weeks ago.

"We first knew there was a problem when we saw all the fire engines and flashing lights, and my son came and told me there was trouble.

"Her neighbour then rang 999 and we went out and just saw pandemonium and it was terrible to see.

"I feel a bit emotional about it, and I really feel for her daughter as she'd moved her up here from London, and she was getting care four days a week."

Another neighbour, who didn't want to be named: "I heard a beeping noise next door and then a crash and then one of the cats meowing. I did try and call my neighbour because I'd got a phone number, but there was no reply.

"Someone went out and had a look at the back and I saw smoke coming out of the back bedroom window, no flames, just smoke, so I called 999. I then had a look at the front and the windows up front were all black."

She also praised the fire service for getting to the scene quickly and providing a "marvellous service", with the fire out within 30 minutes of their arrival.

"They've been into everybody's house and check their fire alarms," the neighbour added.

"They've fitted fire alarms if they wanted one and they've left everybody information about fire safety that the police have been round and they've been really supportive. And I think they've done a smashing job."

A third neighbour, who heard the noise and saw the fire engines outside, added: "We hadn't met her, but we met her son and wished him well, so it's terribly sad to know she's died.

"We're a close-knit community, so we'll all be here to support each other."

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