Fire caused by socket claimed Donegal pensioner's life

Scenes of crime investigators, Garda Kevin Coyle and Garda John Harkin said that the fire was concentrated in the bedroom of the house as it was badly fire damaged.

Fire caused by socket claimed Donegal pensioner's life

By Staff Reporter

editorial@donegaldemocrat.com

@dgldemocrat

An electrical fire was most likely to have started from a plug socket in the bedroom of an 87-year-old man’s home when he died tragically in Dungloe in 2015, a coroner's court has heard.

Letterkenny Coroner's Court yesterday ruled that Cornelius “Connie” Boyle, late of Pole Road, Meenmore, Dungloe, died an accidental death due to asphyxia as a result of inhalation of soot and carbon dioxide as a result of a house fire on December 11, 2015.

A deposition from Hugh Boyle, the son of the deceased, heard he had been watching television late at night at home when there was a sudden power outage after 2am. It was while in the darkness he noticed a “flicker of light” that caught his attention and he observed flames coming from his father's home next door.

He rushed to the scene and saw flames coming through the roof of the stone built single story house and inside his father’s bedroom “everything was ablaze”.

Gardai and the fire services arrived. Mr Connie Boyle was located sitting on the floor of the bathroom by fire officers from Dungloe and they took him from the scene to perform CPR but he was pronounced dead a short time later and removed to Letterkenny University Hospital where a post mortem took place..

Pathologist Dr Gerry O’Dowd outlined that the cause of death was asphyxia due to smoke inhalation and that the victim did not have any burn injuries. He said a toxicology report showed he had some alcohol in his system but coroner Dr Denis McCauley said the level was “not very high”.

Scenes of crime investigators, Garda Kevin Coyle and Garda John Harkin said that the fire was concentrated in the bedroom of the house as it was badly fire damaged.

Garda Harkin said the room had a single plug with an extension that fed a radio, lamp and electric blanket.

They searched the extensively damaged room where the ceiling, drylining on the walls and floor were all destroyed but they managed to locate some of remnants the electrical cabling among the ashes.

Garda Harkin outlined that the lowest area of fire damage was along the skirting board of the room which would indicate to him that the blaze started at the socket and not the plug extension.

The house had its wiring upgraded 30 years previously and it had a battery powered smoke alarm fitted in the hall.

The solid fuel stove had not been lit on the night and the occupant did not smoke, he added.

Dr McCauley recorded a verdict of accidental death and offered his condolences to the Boyle family. Sergeant John Joe McClafferty added his sympathies on behalf of the gardaí.