A WIRRAL grandmother died in a fire at her home caused by a cigarette, an inquest heard.

Veronica Broughal, of Lloyd Drive, Greasby, lost her life in the tragedy on February 25 as the blaze spread through her house.

The inquiry into the 80-year-old’s death, which was held today at Birkenhead Town Hall, was told how a neighbour had noticed smoke billowing from the chimney and raised the alarm with emergency services.

Together with another nearby resident, he managed to kick open the front door but the intensity of the smoke prevented them from entering.

Coroner’s officer Lea Cripps said: “At around 5.15pm on February 25, the deceased’s neighbour was outside in his front garden cleaning his mini-bus when he heard an alarm going off from inside.

“This was not unusual so he ignored it at first. Five minutes later he looked at the house and saw smoke coming from the chimney and when he looked into the letterbox, he saw smoke coming out.

“He immediately ran to his house and his wife contacted emergency services. On his return he and another neighbour kicked the panel of the PVC door but the smoke was too bad and he was unable to enter. One of them went to the back of the house and opened the patio doors to shout through but there was no response.”

Fire crews discovered Mrs Broughal unconscious on her bed upstairs and her death was officially pronounced just before 7pm.

Watch manager Ian Mullen, from the incident team at Merseyside Fire and Rescue headquarters in Bootle, told how Mrs Broughal had been visited by her carer earlier that afternoon and “all was fine” when he left.

Mr Mullen said: “There was no evidence of a deliberate ignition or evidence of candles being in use. I believe the fire started accidentally due to smoking materials being deposited on a two-seater sofa and a smouldering fire started which then turned into a fully-developed fire and spread through the house.

“It is not known why she was upstairs and why she didn’t react to the smoke alarms.”

A post-mortem examination conducted at Arrowe Park Hospital revealed that Mrs Broughal died as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Recording a verdict of accidental death, Wirral coroner Christopher Johnson offered his sympathies to the retired cleaner’s family under such “tragic circumstances.”

Speaking after the hearing, Mrs Broughal’s son, Terry, paid tribute to the emergency services.

He said: “We would like to thank the neighbours who raised the alarm and tried to get into the property. The emergency services’ response was amazing and they could not have done a better job.”

Family friend Ron Burton added: “She was a very well-liked lady and was popular around the village. She will be greatly missed by everyone.”