Woman 'sedated' before caravan fire - coroner

Last updated 05:00 06/08/2014

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An Invercargill woman killed in a caravan fire had earlier dumped burning material on to the lawn, a coroner has found.

Teresa Anne Thompson, 45, died of smoke inhalation on March 16 after the caravan she was living in caught fire while she was asleep inside.

Thompson, along with family and friends, had attended the two-year anniversary memorial at Bluff of the sinking of the Easy Rider, which claimed eight lives.

Coroner CJ Devonport says in his findings, released yesterday, Thompson and the others then returned to a house on Bluff Highway. About 3am, Thompson, who was intoxicated, went to bed in the caravan, which was beside the house.

At 4.47am, passer-by Barbara Howard noticed the caravan and house on fire and, along with another passer-by, Will Kennedy, alerted the house's occupants, who were all safely evacuated, he says.

However, Thompson was dead in the caravan, he says.

Fire risk management officer Paul Glanville said it appeared Thompson was aware of an initial fire in the caravan and removed burning material from it onto the lawn. She returned to the caravan and fell asleep.

"I consider the combined effects of alcohol and cannabis likely contributed to a sedative effect and, not being alerted by any smoke alarm, resulted in Ms Thompson dying from smoke inhalation."

A lit candle was the most likely ignition source for the fire, he said.

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