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Published: 12 June 2009

The fire-damaged interior of Joe McPadden’s flat
Fire tragedy: Smoke alarm probe after man, 60, dies in blaze caused by discarded cigarette

INVESTIGATIONS are underway after a “lonely, frail” man died in a house fire yesterday morning (Thursday).
Sixty-year-old Joe McPadden was well known by neighbours for sitting outside on his steps chatting to passers-by.
He died in his ground-floor flat in Arran Walk, off Essex Road, sometime before 8am, one day after returning from a week in hospital.
Fire investigators believe the blaze began in the living room through a discarded cigarette. Mr McPadden was found unconscious in the property.
Homes for Islington, who run the building said there were no fire alarms in the block, but that all new residents were given a welcome pack with a smoke alarm that they could fit.
It is not known if Mr McPadden, who neighbours described as “frail and vulnerable” and who lived in a specially adapted flat, had been able to fit his own alarm.
One neighbour, who asked not to be named said: “I’m absolutely disgusted. That was a time-bomb waiting to go off. He couldn’t look after himself, he used to get the neighbours to get him bits and pieces. He had no fire alarm. He came out from hospital and they just put him back there.”
She added: “He was getting on, old, frail, vulnerable and very lonely. He constantly wanted company. He would wait for people to come and get him things from the shops. He was too sick to be able to do anything. I’d bring him milk and cigarettes. He would do his utmost to keep you talking because he was so lonely.”
Another neighbour, who used to bring Mr McPadden his daily newspaper, said: “He was a lovely man. He didn’t deserve to die like that. He was always sitting on a chair on the steps talking to everybody.”
A spokesman for Homes for Islington said: “We are very sorry to hear of the death of our tenant, in what appears to have been a terrible accident.
“All tenants are provided with smoke alarms when they sign their tenancy and we also encourage tenants to undergo a fire safety check.
“We have not yet had access to the property to confirm whether the alarms were being used.
“To reassure tenants we will be asking our health and safety inspectors to carry out an inspection of the block.”

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