Gran with suspected Covid burned to death after oxygen tank exploded 'like Roman Candle firework' & blew roof off house

A GRANNY with suspected Covid burnt to death after an oxygen tank exploded “like a Roman Candle firework” and blew the roof off her home.

Lynn Hadley, 68, was killed in the blast which destroyed the roof of her end-terraced house in Walsall, West Mids., on Easter Monday, an inquest heard.

Black Country Coroner's Court heard that ambulance crews had been called to the property after she had started to show symptoms of Covid-19, including breathing difficulties.

But as crews began oxygen treatment, sparks flew from the device in a way which was compared to a Roman Candle and a "humongous box of sparklers being set off".

An inquest was told today how paramedic Emma Spencer shouted "Oh God" as the flames ignited the armchair where Mrs Hadley was sitting.

Her husband Dave, daughter Kelly, granddaughter Mackenzie and the two paramedics managed to flee from the burning house.

But Mrs Hadley could not be rescued despite the efforts of her husband as the flames engulfed the property, and she died in the chair as a result of fatal burns.

In a statement read out by senior coroner Zafar Siddique, Mr Hadley recalled how he had seen a flash out the corner of his eye as the canister was turned on.

He said: "We called 999 because was Lynn was having a high temperature, unable to stand and was lethargic.

"The paramedics arrived. They were wearing full PPE. The male paramedic asked Lynn a couple of questions while the female paramedic took her temperature.

"The paramedics decided oxygen was needed and the female paramedic took an oxygen bottle and placed it on an armchair.

"I saw a flash in the corner of my eye. I heard the paramedic that was next to the oxygen tank shout 'Oh God'."

Mr Hadley added: "I saw sparks coming out of the cylinder and heard the gas start to ignite. The male paramedic tried to pull Lynn out of the way of the cylinder.

"The room was full of black smoke. I saw fire across the floor. I managed to grab her arm but due to the smoke I had to get out to the garden.

"We went into the conservatory and out to the front of the property. We tried to get back into the house. Police and fire crews then arrived at the scene."

Daughter Kelly added: "We rang 999 just before 5pm. I met the paramedics outside and they put on PPE in the back of the ambulance.

"I stood back for social distancing and they went into the living room. The female one did examinations like temperature and the male one asked my mum a couple of questions.

"The female paramedic took an oxygen cylinder, took the covering off and attached the mask to my mum's face.

"When the female paramedic turned the valve it sparked like a Roman Candle. They tried to pull the chair away from the cylinder.

"I heard someone shout: 'Oh God'. I had to run to move Mackenzie as she was upstairs."


Police, firefighters, two more ambulances and a Hazardous Area Response Team were sent to the scene of the blast, which completely destroyed the roof and conservatory.

Paramedic Ms Spencer, who has worked at West Midlands Ambulance Service for three years, said that Mrs Hadley was "quite an unwell lady".

So she asked colleague Steve Kelly to give her "some oxygen".

She added that it had a "wrapper round the top which indicates it is a new cylinder.

"We make sure the seal is intact and hadn't been tampered with, there is no leakage, it is in date and the cylinder is full.

"We do it at every single property we administer. Vehicle preparation operatives do it before we go out.

"We administer one patient a day – quite a significant amount during the coronavirus pandemic. That was routine at the time."

Ms Spencer added: "That is when we started to see almost instantly there was an ignition like a humongous box of sparklers being set off.

"There were sparks and it got bigger and bigger rather quickly. It was round the casing area, the top area."

She then "jumped out of the way – my foot got caught in the waste paper bin I fell over. Mr Hadley helped me up.

"When I looked back there was almighty sparks coming off. I remember leaving the building and pressing my emergency button to call for help.

"The oxygen mask was still attached when I moved. It was seconds, absolute seconds.

There was an ignition like a humongous box of sparklers being set off.

"I stood in the doorway between conservatory and lounge. That was when I looked back and saw it was sparking quite significantly.

"I found Steve and the patient's husband attempting to go back to rescue Mrs Hadley. It was a failed attempt.

"I just saw the oxygen cylinder sparks and saw Steve and Mr Hadley try to move the chair Mrs Hadley was in. That was when I went out to the garden.

"Mr Hadley came out of the building. Control had radioed back saying they were sending fire crews.

"I placed a cordon round the house with members of the public because I was frightened it was going to blow up and we waited for assistance.

"I'm so terribly sorry to the family they had to endure this."

Senior coroner for the Black Country, Zafar Siddique, had opened and adjourned an inquest into Lynn Hadley's death on April 23.

The inquest continues.

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