Fire Tragedies at Denaby

January 1908

Mexborough & Swinton Times, January 18, 1908

Fire Tragedies At Denaby.
Little Children Burnt To Death
Flames Rising Feet High.

Witness Complimented.

The Coroner, Mr. D. Wightman, on Thursday, held two inquests at the Denaby Main Institute. Both were sad case of children being burnt to death.

The first inquiry was relative to Florence Hughes ( 2 years 10 months ), daughter of John Hughes, collier, of 37 Blythe Street.

In his evidence, the father said that on Sunday afternoon, about 3 o´clock, he was asleep in bed. His wife and the four children were downstairs. Florence, however, went up to his bedroom, where a fire was burning, and awakened him by her screams. He jumped up and saw her in flames. Picking her up he carried her downstairs.

The next witness, Peter Holland, said he was outside the house when he heard the screaming. He ran in, pulled his best coat off, and threw it over the child, putting the fire out. The man Hughes was quite sober.

In reply to a jurist, witness said the child was burning so fiercely that he could not tell how it was dressed. When he took hold of the child the flames were rising two feet above it´s head.

The Coroner said if the child was breathing the flames, they would get on it´s lungs, and there would be no chance for the child.

Witness asses that he handed the child to a neighbour, a Mrs. Brindley, who wrapped it in a blanket and took it to the hospital.

The Coroner : You acted like a good Samaritan and a sensible fellow.

” Accidental Death ” was the verdict.

The other case was that of Minnie Crookes, who died on Wednesday, from the effects of burns received on Saturday morning.

Eliza Crookes, widow of Abraham Crookes, formerly a coal miner, who died two years ago next April, leaving witness with three children, gave evidence of identification. She said she went out charing. Deceased was her eldest child. On Saturday morning last, witness went out charing about half-past-nine, taking the youngest child with her, leaving the other two aged eight and six in the house alone. Witness was working in a house ” two doors up,” and at half-past-ten she heard the child screaming. She went and found her in the backyard, with her clothes on fire. She threw her apron on the child, but that was burnt, and Mr. Wray eventually cut the clothes off. Deceased was medically attended, but died on Wednesday afternoon.

The little boy had told witness that his sister was standing on the fender to get something off the mantelpiece when her clothes caught fire.

The Coroner : No fireguard of course ? No, sir.

I should like to hear that you had more sense than they have at Sheffield, but you haven´t.

Witness said there was very little fire in the fireplace at the time.

The Coroner said if there was an excuse for leaving children in a house alone with a fire burning – at any rate, it was the best excuse – it was through a woman trying to get a living for them, as in this case.

The verdict was ” Accidental Death.”

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