Elderly Bourne man died as his weed killer gun burst into flames

An inquest has been opened into the death of Francis Dunlop while using a garden weed burner in the garden of his home in Betjeman Close, Bourne.  Photo by Tim Wilson.
An inquest has been opened into the death of Francis Dunlop while using a garden weed burner in the garden of his home in Betjeman Close, Bourne. Photo by Tim Wilson.

Police and trading standards officers are investigating how a pensioner tragically died while using a weed killer outside his home in Bourne.

Francis Dunlop (86), of Betjeman Close, was burning weeds in his garden with a Kill Weed flame gun, capable of “intense” heat up to 1,300 degrees celsius, when it suddenly burst into flames.

The recall notice for the Kill Weed flame gun.

The recall notice for the Kill Weed flame gun.

Firefighters were called to Mr Dunlop’s home where a neighbour had used a garden hose pipe to put out the fire just before 12.30pm on Monday, June 15. But despite the efforts of paramedics and staff at Peterborough City Hospital, Mr Dunlop suffered fatal burns and an inquest has been opened into his death. A spokesman for South Lincolnshire Coroner’s Office said: “An examination of the device is being done and a date for the resumption of the inquest will be set subsequently.”

According to instructions provided by the Taiwan-based manufacturers of the Kill Weed burner, the flame gun works by “heating the weed foliage with an intense heat of up to 1,300 degrees celsius which destroys the internal cell structure of the plant, causing it to wither and die.”

The product, to which users attach a can of pressurised butane gas, is sold by Hertfordshire retailers Coopers of Stortford which has advised its customers to return Kill Weed after a Europe-wide recall notice was issued warning that consumers were at “serious risk” of burns and/or fire.

The notice said: “If the gas canister is not fitted correctly, this can lead to a leakage of gas and (the) risk of fire when (the) product is ignited for normal use.”

A spokesman for Coopers of Stortford said: “We are extremely sorry to hear about the death of Mr Dunlop and our thoughts and sympathies go out to his family.

“We were contacted by (Lincolnshire) Trading Standards in June following this tragic incident which may have involved one of our Kill Weed products.

“We co-operated fully and promptly with (Lincolnshire) Trading Standards after being informed, including voluntarily contacting customers, recalling the product and liaising with the manufacturer.

“We are unable to make any further comment at this time in view of a pending inquest and other possible investigations.”