“That sight and smell will haunt me forever.” The daughter of a 71-year-old Spalding woman has spoken for the first time since the tragic death of her mother was linked to smoking illegal cigarettes, in the hope she can help stop similar incidents.
Disabled June Buffham died in April 2012 when the chair in which she was sitting caught fire after she had been smoking Jin Ling cigarettes.
At the inquest four months later, the family made a heartfelt plea for lessons to be learned from the tragedy. But two years on, the cigarettes continue to be sold and recently there have been another two smoke-related deaths.
June’s daughter, Julie Grant of Swineshead, is joining forces with Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue and Lincolnshire Trading Standards to highlight issues with Jin Ling cigarettes and the dangers of not putting them out correctly.
She said: “The date will haunt and stay with me forvever.
“I’ll never forget hearing those words: ‘There has been a fire at home and your mum is dead.’
“The worst thing was being asked for a DNA sample to help identify mum. I just couldn’t understand why until the day after her death when I walked into the room with the coroner.
“That sight and smell will not leave me – the room had been completely destroyed by the fire.”
Because of the lack of remains, the inquest recorded a verdict of accidental death.
Julie said: “They assured me that within seconds mum would have been overcome by toxic fumes before the fire engulfed her – this doesn’t help the image I have in my mind.”
Her graffic story is being told to coincide with the launch of a Smokefree Lincolnshire funded video, which shows how quickly this type of fire can detroy a home.
Dave Ranscar, chief fire officer at Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue and chairman of Smokefree Lincolnshire, said: “This is such a sad case and one which we see time and time again - some where people have sadly died, like in June’s case.
We would ask if you have elderly relatives, try to understand their smoking habits and, if necessary, encourage change, such as not smoking in bed or when tired.”
Further advice and free home fire safety checks are available by calling 01522 580397.