Woman dies at home after being overcome by gas fumes

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A PENSIONER died and her husband remains seriously ill in hospital after a suspected case of carbon monoxide poisoning.

John and Pauline Childs were overcome by fumes when they woke up at their home in Ratho, west of Edinburgh, yesterday morning.

Mr Childs, 70, managed to raise the alarm by calling 999, but when the emergency services arrived at the scene they were unable to revive his 61-year-old wife.

A gas leak in the area has been ruled out after the street the couple lived in was sealed off and extensive checks were carried out by Scotland Gas Networks.

It is understood that a faulty appliance may have been to blame for the tragedy.

The Health and Safety Executive is co-ordinating a full investigation.

The couple, who had lived in the area for more than 20 years, experienced tragedy in 2005 when their 22-year-old daughter Jade died shortly after becoming a mother for the first time. Their son John, 36, was at Mr Childs' bedside last night after visiting the scene of the tragedy yesterday, while another son, Ray, 24, is believed to be travelling around the world.

The Childs' next-door neighbour, Yvonne Fairley, said: "Everyone is in shock that this happened.

"The family are so lovely, no-one can believe it. Everyone is saying that it's carbon monoxide poisoning. Pauline had been unwell for a while, but she had never really got over losing Jade. It hit them all hard."

Another neighbour, Claire McCready, added: "This is a tragic loss for everyone here.

"Pauline was a lovely, warm, thoughtful, outgoing and considerate person who would help anybody."

A spokeswoman for Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue said: "Carbon monoxide is a colourless, tasteless and odourless gas.

"It can often occur from faulty cookers or ill-fitted flues."

A police spokesman said: "We can confirm that a 61-year-old woman has died at a property in the Ratho area of Edinburgh. Inquiries are ongoing to establish the circumstances surrounding her death.

"A 70-year-old male was also taken to St John's Hospital, in Livingston, as a precaution."

A spokeswoman for Scotland Gas Networks said that it had had a team of engineers on site making sure that there were no gas leaks in the area.

"We are satisfied there is no problem with the gas supply to this street or any of the properties," he said.

A spokeswoman for the Health and Safety Executive in Scotland said: "All we can say at this stage is that we are aware of this incident and an official investigation is underway. We cannot speculate on any possible causes."

Common sources of carbon monoxide in the home include faulty central heating systems, gas appliances and fires.

Inhaling carbon monoxide reduces the blood's ability to carry oxygen, leaving the body's organs and cells starved of oxygen.