Hirons, Fanny

Hirons, Fanny     1904 Feb 19th

Fire Guards Needed – Fatal Burning Accident to a Sarum Child

The City Coroner (Mr S Buchanan-Smith) held an inquest at the Salisbury Infirmary on Friday evening on the body of Fanny Louisa Hirons, aged five years, the child of Albert Hirons, of 15, Spring Place, Endless Street, who died on Thursday as the result of burns sustained on the previous Tuesday. Mr H Lapham was chosen foreman of the jury.

The mother said that the deceased was five years and eleven months old. On Tuesday morning, about 9.30, she left the deceased in the house with a younger child whilst she went to College Street. Shortly afterwards Mrs Cropp came to her and told her that her child had been burned and taken to the Infirmary. The grate at her house was an open one, and she had no fireguard. There were some matches on the shelf, but the children would be unable to reach them unless they stood on a chair. In answer to a juryman, the witness stated that she did not intend to leave the house long, and asked the neighbours to keep an eye on her children. The matches were on the shelf when she returned. She was in the habit of going out and leaving the children by themselves.

Ellen Dart, wife of Bertie Dart, of 13, Spring Place, Endless Street, said that on Tuesday morning she was in her house about 9.45 when she heard someone screaming. She at once went to Mrs Hiron’s house, and, on opening the door, found the deceased running round the room with her clothes in flames, and the other child running after her. She at once picked up the rug from the floor and wrapped it round the child. The flames were put out and Dr Gordon came, after which the child was taken to the Infirmary. They asked the child what she had been doing, and she said “Nothing.” Witness saw no matches or paper lying about. There was a rather large fire in the grate, as the mother was cooking. Mrs Hirons did not say anything about looking after the children, but simply asked witness to go in at eleven o’clock and see to her cooking. If witness had not heard screams she would not have gone into the house until eleven o’clock, as she did not know that the children were there. In answer to jurymen: – The front of the child’s clothes was burnt. Witness knew that the child was shut out in the back yard in all weathers when the mother was out, but the door was never locked. There was a stool in front of the fireplace, and by standing on this the child would have been able to reach the mantlepiece.

John James Armstrong, assistant house surgeon, at the Salisbury Infirmary, said that on Tuesday morning in last week the deceased was brought to the Institution, suffering from burns in the neck, the under part of the chin, both shoulders and both hands. The child was detained and attended to, but died on the Thursday between 1 and 1.30. In his opinion death was due to shock caused by the burns.

The Coroner said that he did not propose to call any further evidence. He should, however, like to point out the discrepancies in the evidence of the two women. The mother had stated that she asked the neighbours to keep an eye on the children, whilst Mrs Dart had said that the mother did nothing of the kind, and was in the habit of going out and leaving the children. The mother had also stated that the child could not reach the mantlepiece, whilst the other witness had said that she could.

Mr Perkins (a juryman) said that he thought that the jury should compliment Mrs Dart on the prompt manner in which she wrapped the rug round the child. It was not often that the jurymen heard evidence of such common sense, and he thought that if they complimented this witness it would encourage others to act promptly.

The jury returned a verdict of “Accidental Death” and complimented Mrs Dart on the prompt action she took in extinguishing the flames. The jury gave their fees to the parents, and recommended them to purchase a fireguard.


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