Date: 18 Oct 2010
Edith Stuart died when her home was set on fire.
She suffered 50% burns and was taken to the Blackpool Victoria Hospital but died the following day.
She had been a resident at the Cleveleys Park Nursing Home for four years.
Edith Stuart's room was on the second floor.
There were ten elderly residents at Cleveleys Park Rest Home and at the time of the fire, two employees.
Police initially arrested the two employees but later found that there was insufficient evidence to charge either of them. However, they also said that they ruled out any third-party involvement from an intruder.
Of the ten elderly residents, nine were mentally or physically infirm. There was one mobile resident but she was said to have been upstairs in her room at the time.
Police said that there were discrepancies in the statements of the two employees who were both care workers, relating to their whereabouts at the time before the fire alarm went off. One of the care workers said that they had made the residents tea, given them their medication and then put them to bed. The care worker said that she then went to the laundry room where she was for five minutes when she then heard the fire alarm go off just before 6pm. She said 'I can’t remember exactly what happened, but I went into the hallway and saw the other care worker next to the stairs. I checked to see if anything was on fire in the kitchen and when I returned to the hall I saw thick black smoke coming under Edith’s door.'
The other care worker said that she had put a woman to bed and then she and the other care worker both went for a tea break and a cigarette outside. She said that she then went upstairs and and soon after heard the alarm. She said 'I went to the alarm box, I remember trying to put in the code but it wouldn’t go off so I said there might be a fire in the kitchen and went to look at that. On the way I noticed smoke coming from Edith’s room and the door was black, I felt shocked, I was shouting at the residents to get out. I tried to get Edith but the room was pitch black with smoke, I couldn’t see her, I could hear something but couldn’t get to her because of the flames.'.
Edith Stuart's cause of death was given as burns and it was stated that she had been lying down at the time when her bedclothes caught alight. She had extensive burns to her back, arms, legs and buttocks.
A green cigarette lighter was found on the floor of her room although she didn't smoke.
It was said that the fire had spread from the cotton valance sheet of her bed and then travelled across to the wall. It was thought that Edith Stuart had then sat up and thrown her bedding.
A man from the Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service said that the fire was not consistent with a dropped cigarette, but rather a flame being deliberately held to her bed for around three seconds. He said 'I am entirely satisfied the fire was started deliberately by a person or persons who the police were unable to identify. It is hard to conceive a more dreadful act than for someone to deliberately set fire to a bed in which an elderly and frail, and relatively immobile, lady, is lying in the knowledge that the lady has limited possibility of escaping the fire once it has started and in doing so to bring about her death.'.
Edith Stuart was a retired textile weaver from Burnley, Lancashire.