A LITTLE boy who was seriously injured when his older brother lit a fire while trying to start a barbecue for his teddy bear died of a viral infection two years after the blaze, an inquest has heard.
Michael Poole was just 13 months old when his brother, then three, set fire to toys and bedding in the bedroom they shared, while his mother and stepfather slept downstairs.
Stepfather Kevin Hall and neighbours tried to rescue Michael, but they were beaten back by thick smoke and intense heat. Firefighters managed to rescue the youngster, but the smoke and lack of oxygen left him blind, unable to speak or walk and with just five per cent brain capacity.
In September, his mother Amy Poole found him covered in sweat and shaking and he was rushed to hospital. But after suffering from a viral infection and septicaemia, he died later that day.
An inquest in Hull heard how the fire was started accidentally on June 17, 2008. Mr Hall told the hearing how he had risked his own life to save Michael.
In a statement, neighbour Shaun O'Laughlin said: "I could hear Michael crying loudly, I tried to get to him but the smoke was just too thick and the heat was too much. Kevin's body was black with smoke and he was hysterical."
Other neighbours tried to rescue the toddler through his upstairs window, but the fire was too intense.
Fire investigation officer Chris Blacksell said the older boy had told a police officer minutes after his brother had been rescued "he wouldn't do it again".
Mr Blacksell said: "He told the officer he had been having a barbecue with a teddy bear and some soft toys and matches in the area where the fire began. We found matches in the bedroom which appeared to have ignited some toys and also some bedding."
Michael was airlifted to Alder Hey Hospital in Liverpool and spent four months in intensive care. He returned to the couple's new home in Hull in September and appeared content but had regular epileptic seizures. A post mortem examination found Michael had been left extremely vulnerable to infection due to his injuries.
A verdict of accidental death was recorded.
Afterwards, his mother said: "The month before he died had been the best since his accident.
"He was had full of smiles and we got a giggle out of him for the first time, he was just more happy in himself. He was a fighter."