A sad accident occurred at Rushden on Tuesday, at about 4.30p.m., when Irene Ada Nichols, the four-year and nine months old daughter of Mr. and Mrs. James Nichols, of 19, South-terrace, sustained such severe burns that she passed away about five hours afterwards. Her mother went out for about 15 minutes to do some shopping, and when she returned she found her child in flames. The little girl afterwards told her mother that she had been playing with some paper and the fire. There was a fireguard in front of the fire with another one (wire) between that one and the fire. The child had never been known to touch the fire before.
was held on Wednesday afternoon, before the Coroner (Mr. J. C. Parker) at the Unicorn Inn.
Mr. Meller was chosen foreman of the jury.
The mother identified the body as that of her child, and said: My daughter was four years and nine months old. I went out about 4.30 on Tuesday afternoon to do some shopping, and returned at 4.45. I left three children in the house, Doris, four years and nine months, and the others two years old and eight months respectively. I left them downstairs in the living-room, no one else being in the house. There was a fire in the grate but not a big one. This was guarded by a high fire-guard with perpendicular bars. The grate is about eighteen inches from the guard. When I returned at 4.45 I heard the child scream. I ran down to the door as quickly as I could, and when I opened it smoke poured out into my face. The child was making a groaning noise. I took her out into the yard. Two men came up and one of them put the flames out and cut her clothes off her. I sent for the doctor about five o’clock, and afterwards called in Mrs. Hodby. I found a piece of scorched paper in the grate. It was about 12 inches long, and was partly burned. She was dressed in woollen things mostly, but had flannelette underclothing. They were all burnt to bits, and the dress was also burnt, but not so much as the underclothing. I have never left the children alone before. They have never offered to touch the fire before. I generally leave the children with Mrs. Hodby, but she was not at home yesterday.
In reply to a question, Mrs. Nichols said she went out to get something for her husband’s tea.
A juryman: How far did you go?
Mrs. Nichols: I only went as far as Ward’s corner.
In reply to other questions, witness said there was a fender inside the grate. The child must have put the paper in the fire and pulled it out alight. There was no paper about except a bill, which was about a foot long.
Mrs. Hodby, living next door to deceased’s parents, said: I look after Mrs. Nichols’s children when she goes out. She does not often go out, but if she does she always asks me to go and mind her children. I was out yesterday afternoon. She looks after her children very well, and does not neglect them at all. Mrs. Nichols has a wire guard as well as an iron guard.
Mrs. Nichols corroborated, and said she never removed them except to clean the grate.
Dr. Owen said: I was called at about 4.45 on Tuesday night, just after I had had my tea. I went at once, and found the child wrapped up in a blanket by the fire. All the clothes had been taken off her. The burns were very extensive on the face, arms, body, and legs down to the knees. The burns were on the front of the body. They were very serious burns, and the child had no chance of recovering. I got her to bed at about six. I called again at about nine o’clock, when she was very much worse. Death was due to burns. Mrs. Nichols looks after her children well, and is an excellent mother.
The Coroner said that the fire was protected by two guards, so that there was no complaint on that score. He had been told that she was an excellent mother, and the doctor had given her a splendid character.
The jury returned a verdict “Death from burns accidentally received.”