AN ELDERLY man died after a cigarette sparked a fire at his home, an inquest heard.
Ralph Grange, 78, died after fire broke out at his semi-detached house on Trueman Avenue in Heckmondwike on November 19, 2008.
The inquest at Huddersfield yesterday heard from West Yorkshire Fire Service investigator Chris Clark, who said the fire was probably caused by a cushion falling onto a smouldering cigarette in an ashtray, while Mr Grange dozed in his living room.
The tragedy brought a warning from Coroner Roger Whittaker who said every home should have a smoke alarm fitted.
Mr Grange, who had been a smoker since the age of 14, was woken by the fire and called 999 from a phone in his hallway.
But he could not escape, as the front door was locked.
He suffered severe burns when returning to the blazing living room to get his keys.
Firefighters rescued him and he was taken to Pinderfields General Hospital at Wakefield.
Kirkheaton-born Mr Grange died six days later of multiple organ failure.
The inquest heard that Mr Grange had lived alone since his wife Margaret died in 2006.
He worked part-time as a joiner until late 2008 and, before that, he worked as a coachbuilder until he was made redundant.
After stopping work in 2008, he started drinking more heavily, but remained fiercely independent.
Blood tests showed he had drunk the equivalent of six pints of beer at the time of his death.
Recording a verdict of accidental death, Coroner Mr Whittaker urged people to fit smoke alarms and make a fire escape plan.
He said: “The only good thing that may come out of such a tragedy is that other people may learn from such a misfortune.
“The main lesson is every house occupant should make plans for evacuation in case of fire.”
Investigator Mr Clark urged people to contact the fire service for a free home safety check or advice on freephone 0800 587 4536.
He added: “We really want to target vulnerable people, who may be elderly or disabled.
“If anybody is aware of people like this living nearby, if they let us know we have specialist teams who can help and advise them.”