A NAVY veteran died after lighting his pipe near some spilled lighter fluid at home.
An inquest into the death of Peter Smeeton revealed he died from carbon monoxide poisoning following the blaze in December last year.
We have got real heroes in the fire service and I would like to thank them for their bravery.Coronor David Horsley
The 83-year-old, of Nicholas Crescent, regularly smoked a pipe and would use a Zippo lighter to light it.
The inquest, held at Portsmouth Guildhall, heard that Mr Smeeton would use a lighter fluid box to fill up his Zippo lighter and both were found in his room after the fire.
Fire investigator at Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service Robin Furniss said while giving evidence the cause of the fire was a small amount of spilled lighter fluid on the floor catching alight.
He said: ‘We examined items in the bedroom to see where the fire came from.
‘A Zippo lighter was found on the floor near the bed and the lid was open and it was found to be empty of lighter fluid.
‘It appears to have been burning on the floor.’
Mr Furniss added that the carpet had damage consistent with a flash burn where a fire starts quickly.
In his conclusion, he said: ‘With the evidence available, the most likely cause of the fire was the lighting of a Zippo-type lighter in an area that had lighter fluid as well.’
Mr Smeeton’s sons attended the inquest and said their dad had always been a smoker.
He had been diagnosed with secondary prostate cancer and they said that smoking was something he enjoyed doing.
Wayne Smeeton said: ‘Our mum was an ex-smoker so she was very against it but dad has always smoked.
‘Mum did moan at him constantly about it but he had prostate cancer and we knew that last year was probably going to be his last Christmas.
‘His treatment for the cancer made him tired so he would spend time in his bedroom.
‘Sometimes, he would lose the feeling in his legs and he would panic. But he was good with his hands and was always tinkering with things.’
After hearing from the pathologist report, David Horsley concluded that Mr Smeeton, who served 24 years in the Royal Navy, died from an accident.
He said: ‘Your father was a lifelong smoker and had lighters and lighter fluid in his bedroom, a lot of which were full.
‘He has spilt some of it, lit his pipe and the fire has started.
‘He died due to an accident.’
Mr Horsley also thanked the fire service for their brave work in putting out the fire.
He added: ‘We have got real heroes in the fire service and I would like to thank them for their bravery.’
Mr Smeeton, who was a member of the Hermes Masonic Lodge, on Queen’s Road, in Fareham, was described as dedicated fundraiser, having spent many years as the charity steward.
Members said he would be remembered as a gentle and considerate man.