Kent widower died after accidentally setting himself on fire in armchair

040222 Maidstone County Hall - PA
An inquest was held at Maidstone County Hall into the death of Leonard Ollage Credit: Gareth Fuller/PA Archive/PA Images

A widower tragically died after accidentally setting himself and his armchair on fire, a court heard.

An inquest was held at Maidstone County Hall into the death of Leonard Ollage, 75, who died on October 1 2021, as a result of a fire in his living room flat.

Mr Ollage was described by friends and family as "vulnerable who needed help looking after himself", said Sgt Ben French who gave evidence at the hearing.

The pensioner lived in sheltered retirement accommodation in Elizabeth Court, Dartford.

This was a residential area that had a 24-hour telecare alarm system.

Mr Ollage was occasionally visited for risk assessments and also had agreed for carers to visit him.

He was a pipe smoker who Coroner James Dillon described as having a "propensity to be less than careful with his lighter".

There were at least two other incidents in which the fire brigade was called to his flat as a result of accidental fires.

In the last visit in May 2021, he refused to let the fire service spray a flame retardant spray on his armchair in the living room, which is where he would smoke.

A neighbour also described an incident in which she reported smoke coming from his flat and when she knocked on his door to see if he was OK, he told her that he had left the stove on.

On October 17, it is believed that Mr Ollage had accidentally set fire to himself and his armchair either while or after filling up a zippo lighter.

A post-mortem examination showed samples of blood with high levels of carbon monoxide.

His trachea was in good condition but was soot-stained.

There was also extensive burning to his body, particularly the left side.

When his body was discovered, Mr Ollage was naked from the waist down, with burned slippers by his feet and also disintegrated jogging bottoms.

Giving evidence at the inquiry, Fire Inspector Philip Bailey said: "Upon entering the scene we found smouldering embers in the armchair but no fire.

"There was burn damage in the living room and burn damage to a reclining armchair.

"We opened the windows to give better visibility as the flat was engulfed in smoke.

"An ambulance was called at 2.46pm for the victim but it was determined that he was likely deceased.

"He was wearing nothing from the waist down and there was a zimmer frame close by.

"It is likely that he tried to remove his burning clothing before falling over."

He concluded it was likely the fire was caused by vapours from the zippo lighter or spilt fluid.

Also, the reason why the fire was only a burning ember when fire officers arrived is believed to be the result of the living room windows being closed and smothering the airflow.

Sgt French added: "He had bleeding and blistering to the buttocks and legs.

"There was a pair of disintegrated tracksuit joggers by his legs and burned slippers by his feet.

"He received severe burns, particularly to his left side, and also to his face."

Coroner James Dillon concluded that the cause of death was due to an accidental fire while Mr Ollage was operating his lighter.

Credit: Kent Live/BPM Media

Hampshire baby given 'game-changing' £1.8M drug has 'second chance' at life

Two men jailed over high speed Lexus car race which killed 24-year-old in Sussex