The ArgusCarbon monoxide from house fire killed woman (From The Argus)

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Carbon monoxide from house fire killed woman

The Argus: Maria Woodhead Maria Woodhead

A soon-to-be-grandmother died after a fire broke out in her home on New Year’s Eve.

An inquest in Horsham yesterday heard Maria Woodhead, 51, was found face down on her bed and struggling to breathe by her son Joe, 23.

An electrical fault in a first floor cupboard at the home in Banks Road, Crawley, started a fire on the site of an old boiler and “smouldered” a plastic electric junction box, according to fire reports.

Joe, who returned at lunchtime from an overnight stay at his girlfriend’s house, carried out CPR until paramedics arrived. But despite efforts to save her, Ms Woodhead was pronounced dead at the scene.

The inquest was told Ms Woodhead, a legal assistant, had previously battled mental health issues but was looking forward to spending New Year’s Eve with a close friend.

She was also positively anticipating 2014, which included the arrival of Joe’s baby – her first grandson.

West Sussex Fire and Rescue investigators could not establish how exactly the fire started.

Recording an open verdict Joe Turner, West Sussex assistant deputy coroner, said: “Ms Woodhead had a lot to look forward to.

“She had difficult moments in her life but there are no signs she had a hand in this.”

Speaking after yesterday’s inquest Joe said: “No words could describe that afternoon.

“They had three fire investigators and none could work out exactly what happened and that was my initial thought too.

“There’s no explanation. You can’t explain it and I didn’t expect any answers today to be honest.

“I’ve not dealt with her death but I’m going through it in my own head. It has been incredibly difficult but my son was born three days ago so that’s what I am focused on now. That’s my life now.

“A lot has changed but we’ll be OK, we'll get there.

“Mum would definitely be proud of us now and, I think, looking down smiling on us.”

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