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Tovil fire which killed father was an accident, coroner rules


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A 75-year-old man died after running back in to his home of four decades to tackle a fire.

An inquest has now heard the blaze in Ivy Mill Lane, Tovil, near Maidstone, started accidentally due to an ember from a log burner.

Trevor Hales sadly passed away in the fire
Trevor Hales sadly passed away in the fire

An inquest at County Hall, Maidstone, heard how retired handyman Trevor Hales ran back into his burning home after getting out.

He and his partner Karen Verecker were woken up by their smoke alarm at around 5.30am on Saturday, October 16.

Both made their way downstairs to the back door - which was used as a main entrance - and got out of the house, with Ms Verecker alerting neighbours.

However, Mr Hales went back to the cottage, where he and his partner had lived for nearly four decades - to try and fight the flames.

When Ms Verecker returned with a neighbour the father-of-two was on the floor having been overcome by smoke.

Trevor Hales ran back in to his home to fight the fire
Trevor Hales ran back in to his home to fight the fire

A post-mortem revealed Mr Hales died of carbon monoxide poisoning due to smoke inhalation, aggravated by an ischemic heart condition.

Crews fought the flames from inside and outside the property for hours and were able to stop the blaze spreading to neighbouring homes.

When firefighters arrived at the scene they found Mr Hales one metre away from the door.

The family's cat and dog also died in the blaze.

During a hearing at County Hall in Maidstone, coroner Katrina Hepburn ruled the Sidcup-born father's death as an accident.

Following the tragic event, which "rocked the tight-knit community", neighbours paid tribute to Mr Hales.

Residents of the neighbouring property were also forced to leave their home due to the amount of smoke damage.

Fire crews, who were joined by paramedics and police at the scene, spent more than seven hours at the property.

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