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Fire death in house piled with papers

PUBLISHED: 10:42 29 May 2009 | UPDATED: 14:02 03 July 2010

'Lovely lady': Grace Crome died in a fire at her home in Bradwell.

'Lovely lady': Grace Crome died in a fire at her home in Bradwell.

AN elderly woman who piled her Norfolk home full of hoarded items died as a result of the habit, an inquest heard yesterday.

Grace Lilian Crome, 91, died on New Year's Eve after a blaze broke out in her home in Bradwell, near Yarmouth, when a heater caused some nearby hoarded items to catch fire.

AN elderly woman who piled her Norfolk home full of hoarded items died as a result of the habit, an inquest heard yesterday.

Grace Lilian Crome, 91, died on New Year's Eve after a blaze broke out in her home in Bradwell, near Yarmouth, when a heater caused some nearby hoarded items to catch fire.

Miss Crome had stockpiled so many items they totally filled her living room. Firefighters tackling the deadly blaze found the piles reached chest height.

Yesterday's inquest, held at Yarmouth Magistrates' Court, heard that Miss Crome had died from smoke inhalation as a result of the fire.

Her neighbour and second cousin Elsie Hall said that she had tried to persuade her relative to remove some of the hoard, which included papers and holiday memorabilia.

Giving evidence to deputy coroner Nicholas Holroyd, Mrs Hall said: “I asked her many times to have a blitz. She would not let anyone touch anything.”

Miss Crome, who had lived in her Beccles Road home since 1945, was found lying dead by her hallway by firefighters.

David Kennedy, Yarmouth fire station manager, said: “It was a small smouldering type of fire. However, the house was fully smoked-logged throughout. You could not have seen your hand in front of your face. The junk that was in the premises reached chest level.”

Miss Crome was said to have been in good health at the time of the fire - although she was hard of hearing. She had a smoke alarm but it had been destroyed by the blaze.

Mr Holroyd recorded a verdict of accidental death.

He said: “The condition of the house inside was unusual. She hoarded everything.

“It was her habit to accumulate items, I hesitate to call it junk, in her home and despite Mrs Hall's efforts she continued to accumulate.

“The cause of the fire would appear to have been the use of a halogen heater in the hallway. It was heat from that heater that caused something to catch fire and this caused the tragic incident.”

Miss Crome was born in Yarmouth in 1917 and never married or had children. She had worked for BT in Norwich and been a member of a gardening club and the Yaresiders folk dance group.

At the time of Miss Crome's death, Mrs Hall paid tribute to her second cousin by saying: “She was a lovely lady. A real old fashioned lady. She loved her gardening and was always telling me to stop fussing over her.”

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