Great Yarmouth blaze: Coroner warns of hoarding risks

Yasmin Siddiqi Image copyright Family photo
Image caption Yasmin Siddiqi died in a fire at her home in October 2018

A coroner examining the death of a compulsive shopper who died in a blaze in her cluttered flat has warned of the risks of hoarding.

Yasmin Siddiqi, 41, of Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, died on 26 October 2018.

Assistant Coroner Simon Milburn ruled her death was an accident caused by a carelessly discarded cigarette.

He said the risks of smoking in her cluttered home should "have triggered actions". Norfolk County Council has yet to comment.

The inquest was told that Ms Siddiqi had suffered mental health problems for more than 20 years and had been under the care of adult social services and a mental health trust.

'Hoarding danger'

It heard the fire started when a cigarette Ms Siddiqi had been smoking fell on clothing by her bed and rapidly set fire to stuffed toys sending out noxious fumes that would have overwhelmed her.

The inquest heard the fire service had inspected the property a month before the blaze and concluded the hoarding presented a high fire risk, but their advice was not acted on immediately.

Sue Graham, the services director for the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust, told the inquest that although the extra advice on hoarding was available on the trust's intranet, it "wasn't widely enough known" but now it was "robustly shared with staff".

Mr Milburn said this "is not a case in my view of systemic failures" within the authorities involved.

The inquest heard the fire service report sent to social services recommended the clutter needed to be reduced by 50% but this does not appear to have happened, although a metal bin was provided at Ms Siddiqi's home.

He said there was a lack of knowledge among care staff of the guidelines, which had been drawn up, to improve the care of hoarders.

Mr Milburn ordered that all necessary mental health staff should have knowledge of the safeguarding document on hoarding and that within 21 days he wanted to see what actions had been taken within the council to make staff more aware of the dangers posed by hoarding.

The family of Ms Siddiqi said they knew this was not an isolated case of hoarding and the dangers needed to be better recognised.

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