Worker died of 85 per cent burns after freak ‘explosion’ in Northamptonshire

County Hall, Northampton.
County Hall, Northampton.

The family of a man who was killed in a freak fire at his work place in Northamptonshire said an inquest into his death yesterday left several questions unanswered.

John Houghton, 59, died of 85 per cent burns on June 27, three months after injuring himself during a shift at Towcester firm, Smith’s Palettes, based at Jacks Hill.

On March 27, 2013, he had been working outside in the cold and, as was occasional practice, lit a fire in the courtyard to warm his hands.

But the inquest heard that no-one saw the fire ‘explode’, leaving Mr Houghton with horrific burns to his body.

A jury of eight men and two women returned a verdict of accidental death at an inquest at County Hall in Northampton yesterday, Wednesday.

His closest family – brother and sister Albert Houghton and Maureen Townsend – said they may now never know how their brother died.

Mrs Townsend said: “There was a lack of witnesses. We didn’t know what happened at the time and we are probable never going to know now, are we? How did someone go from just warming their hands up by a fire to being caught in an explosion, just like that?”

Mr Houghton’s boss, Steven Smith, told the inquest he had no idea “to this day” how the tragedy happened.