Sunday 23 October 2016

Girl (6) dies after setting fire to dress while playing with lighter

Young Wirral girl suffered more than 66 per cent burns when she accidentally set cotton dress alight, inquest hears

Published 16/10/2015 | 23:53

Keira-Leigh Garland
Keira-Leigh Garland

A six-year-old girl died after accidentally setting herself on fire while playing with a cigarette lighter.

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An inquest heard that Keira-Leigh Garland suffered more than 66 per cent burns to her body after her cotton dress caught on fire. She was taken to Alder Hey Children's Hospital but, despite medical staff battling to save her life, died 19 days later from complications.

Liverpool coroner Andre Rebello was told that Keira-Leigh's parents had separated and she was being brought up by her paternal grandmother at her home in New Brighton, Wirral.

Her father, Sam Garland, lived in a flat with his girlfriend and her four-year-old son in a multiple occupancy house at a different address.

On the day of the tragedy, Keira-Leigh had been visiting her father when she got hold of a lighter that was on top of a wardrobe in another part of the house.

 Mr Garland was in his attic flat when he heard a scream and rushed out. He saw his child at the bottom of the stairs with her hair and dress ablaze. He tried to save her by patting her down, suffering burns to his hands in the process.

Emergency services advised those tending to the youngster to put her in cold water and to keep cooling her down until paramedics arrived.

Mr Garland's neighbour Samantha Wilkinson described being alerted by a scream, and said that Keira-Leigh's cotton dress had gone up in flames after the youngster had played with the lighter she found.

The inquest heard that concerns had been raised before the tragedy on April 16 about the number of cigarette lighters scattered about the property - which was divided into flats and bedsits - and about children getting access to them.

Giving a verdict of accidental death, Mr Rebello warned about the dangers of children coming into contact with lighters and other smoking equipment.

He told the family: "Keira-Leigh was very special and she needs to be remembered for her life, not for the tragedy of her death.

"Clearly keeping children safe from the danger of smoking equipment and lighters is the responsibility of anybody who purchases, acquires or holds a lighter. Children should never have access to such devices."

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