Wollaston woman accidentally set herself on fire, inquest heard

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A WOLLASTON woman accidentally set herself alight when she was sniffing hairspray while smoking a cigarette, an inquest heard.

Sharon Jayne Hill, suffered severe burns after the blaze at her ground floor flat in Rutland Place, off The Kingsway, on April 17 last year.

The 40-year-old died the following day in Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

Fire investigation officer James Holder, told today's inquest at Walsall Coroners Court that a neighbour heard Miss Hill's smoke alarm going off at around 9.15pm.

He said: "The neighbour went to investigate and was about to knock on her door when Miss Hill fell out of the door and into her arms, saying 'I set myself alight, take me back in and put me in the bath' but she led her outside to safety."

Mr Holder said Miss Hill had severe burns to her calves and forearms and her clothing had burnt off.

Following his investigation, Mr Holder said he was confident the fire had started in the living room, where a lighter, cigarettes and other smoking materials had been discovered.

He said: "It looks as though she was smoking while inhaling fumes from a flammable aerosol.

"It would have happened very quickly and she would have found herself in a rapidly changing situation."

Miss Hill was "obviously in a lot of pain", according to PC More, who found her sitting on the grassed area outside the flats, when she arrived at the scene.

PC More told the inquest: "She was sat on the floor screaming, she kept saying 'help me, help me'.

"We spoke for a couple of seconds, she told me who she was and that it was an accident .

"It happened while she was sniffing hairspray, we found aerosol cans in her flat. She said she never intended to set fire to herself, it had just gone wrong. She was very distressed."

Senior Black Country coroner, Robin Balmain said Miss Hill had died from a cardiac arrest due to extensive burns.

He concluded her death was an accident and added: "I'm aware she had a long history of solvent abuse, particularly aerosols.

"This demonstrates not only are there serious dangers when inhaling hairspray and other substances but if you do that while smoking, this is what can happen."

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