Brian Hazell, once a driver for Jeremy Clarkson on Top Gear, and his 72-year-old wife Eileen, were killed in a house fire yesterday from inhaling smoke while they slept from a fire caused by a cigarette which had not been properly disposed of.
Josh Brooks, a 20-year-old neighbor, said that Brian had been a driver, and used to deliver cars to Jeremy Clarkson during his tenure on Top Gear: “I’ve lived here for eight years and they were both just such nice people. They were both a bit old school. Brian used to deliver people’s cars to them. He used to take cars to the former Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson.”
A coroner determined that the fire was likely caused by one of Eileen’s discarded cigarettes, which started the fire while still burning after it was thrown in a bedroom wastebasket. Nearly 50 cigarette butts in total were found in the kitchen, which had not been stubbed out, but smoked all the way through. Eileen suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, likely connected to the cigarette not being fully extinguished.
The fire department was called by another neighbor, Luke Webb, after his girlfriend woke him at around 4 AM and told him that the Hazells’ house was on fire. The coroner confirmed that the couple were sleeping in a different bedroom than usual, and that the fire started in their usual bedroom.
The coroner concluded by saying that “on the balance of probabilities, the fire was caused by an incompletely extinguished cigarette dropped by Mrs. Hazell into a waste paper basket. I think that in this case the inevitable conclusion is one of accident.”