Elderly woman from Northampton died after dropping lantern burner on her sari, inquest hears

Nazarana Court in Semilong.
Nazarana Court in Semilong.

A grieving Northampton woman's life was tragically ended when flames from a lantern burner caught fire to her sari and killed her within minutes.

Rasikaben Chauhan was living at the assisted Nazarana Court in Semilong Road when an oil burner became dislodged from a shrine in her apartment.

An inquest at County Hall on Wednesday heard how the 84-year-old grandmother may have already passed away by the time firefighters broke the front door down at close to 11am on December 27 last year.

Assistant coroner Hassan Shah has now called for the emergency services to compile a report on the dangers of the lanterns, which are traditional in the Hindu community.

Mr Shah, said: "I do believe there is a risk that similar events will occur.

"There is an extra risk to this particular part of the community.

"I have asked the relevant authorities to, within 26 days, look at how such deaths can be prevented in the future."

Fire investigator Kevin Aitken, said Mrs Chauhan, who lived alone, could have been killed before the flames set off the fire alarm in her apartment, though he added that Nazarana Court had an up-to-date fire assessment.

A warden system or a fire sprinkler would have been unlikely to change the outcome, he added, apportioning no blame to the appartment operators Asra Housing.

County Hall heard how there was only "thin smoke" in the apartment by the time fire crews arrived and the flames had already extinguished.

"The fire damage was mostly to the victim's body and a small area of carpet," he said.

"It would appear that one became dislodged and dropped into the victim's clothing and caught fire.

"The victim appeared to be wearing a sari. It engulfed her in flames."

Mr Aitken confirmed the fire alarm was triggered shortly after the flames took hold, adding that he was aware of several other similar incidents involving oil burners and flammable saris.

Mrs Chauhan, who was born in Gujarat, India, relocated to Northampton in 1958.

In a statement read out at County Hall on behalf of her son Narendra Chauhan, he said his mother had recently lost a close family member at the time of her death.

He added "She liked reading, she liked watching television and she was very religious."

Deputy coroner Mr Shah returned a conclusion of accidental death.