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Penge care firm fined almost £43,000 after elderly woman seriously injured in fire

PUBLISHED: 09:34 08 November 2016

The fire started in an electrically operated armchair  Photo: London Fire Brigade

The fire started in an electrically operated armchair Photo: London Fire Brigade

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Furniture in a corridor was blocking an escape route for residents

A Penge care home has been fined nearly £43,000 after an elderly woman was seriously injured when an electrically operated armchair caught fire.

The blaze, which broke out on the evening of October 14, 2013 at Burrows House care home on Derwent Road, led to one resident being taken to hospital suffering from severe smoke inhalation.

She was put on a life support machine and spent more than a month in hospital before being released.

Two other residents were taken to hospital following the fire and several others were treated at the scene.

A subsequent inspection carried out by the London Fire Brigade raised a number of concerns, including the failure to keep the corridor clear of combustible materials such as furniture.

Inspectors said this had prevented the corridor being used as an escape route, resulting in the serious injury of one of the residents and putting the lives of other residents at risk.

GCH (Burrow House) Ltd, which runs Burrows House care home, was sentenced for three offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 at Croydon Crown Court on Thursday following the successful prosecution by LFB.

At an earlier hearing the company had pleaded guilty to not having a fire risk assessment, blocking a fire escape route with combustible materials and wedging fire doors open, and failing to keep firefighting equipment in working order.

The firm was fined a total of £42,966.

LFB’s assistant commissioner for fire safety, Dan Daly, said: “This was a very serious fire which nearly saw someone lose their life.

“Protecting London’s most vulnerable residents is our priority.

“Families entrust the care of their loved ones to places such as this, and to find people being put at risk from fires in places where they should be safe in this way is totally unacceptable.

“Building owners and care home managers have a clear responsibility under fire safety laws to ensure that people living in their premises are safe from the risk of fire.

“If we find people are ignoring those responsibilities, we won’t hesitate to prosecute.

“The fine handed down in this case should serve as a stark warning that the courts take these matters just as seriously as we do.”

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