A NEIGHBOUR of a reclusive St Helens woman who died in a ferocious house fire desperately tried in vain to save her, an inquest heard.
Sheila May Fletcher, 59, was killed when flames ripped through her mid-terraced house on Ardwick Street, Fingerpost, last September.
An inquest hearing held at Whiston Hospital last week heard how the ex Beechams worker became engulfed in smoke after falling asleep and dropping a lit cigarette down the side of her living room chair.
Mrs Fletcher’s neighbour, David Wilshaw, was the first to spot smoke billowing out of her home and desperately banged on the door - only to be beaten back by flames and dense smoke in his attempt to gain entry.
When fire crews arrived at Mrs Fletcher’s home - one of a block of eight terraced houses near the Higher Parr Street shops - the fire and smoke had already caused extensive damage.
Tragically, firefighters then discovered Mrs Fletcher’s body.
The inquest heard how Mrs Fletcher, who was battling depression and had suffered from back pain for several years, had a history of falling asleep during the day.
Carers who attended her home every day had previously taken cigarettes off her when she had dropped off.
A post mortem examination confirmed the cause of death as “asphixia due to carbon monoxide toxicity”.
Back in September 2010, shocked neighbours paid tribute to “a lovely lady who always said hello”.
One told the St Helens Reporter how Mrs Fletcher, who lived alone, was “very well-known” and said that the tight-knit community had been hit hard by the tragedy.
Another neighbour told how Mrs Fletcher was “always polite and very pleasant to speak to” but did not venture out much.