A MAJOR fire at a Fulham mansion block was deliberately started by a benefits cheat who later set fire to herself in a central London car park.
The Chronicle reported on the blaze at Bishops Mansions in Bishops Park Road last October, which saw plumes of smoke billowing from the windows and an evacuation.
This week an inquest into the death of Caroline Grainger, 50, who died from 85 per cent burns after she set herself alight, heard how the she started the fire with petrol after her letting agents found out she had been impersonating her dead mother, Fleur Baker, for three years in order to help herself to £70,000 worth of state pensions and disability allowance.
She also claimed carer's benefits and used the money to pay for the smart property, Westminster Coroner's Court heard.
After setting multiple fires at the flat, which were prevented from spreading when a passer-by quickly called 999, she drove her blue Ford Escort to a car park at a block of flats in Dorset House, Marylebone.
There, she doused the inside of the vehicle in petrol before sparking another blaze that engulfed her in a massive fireball.
Shocked onlookers watched as she begged them for help while rolling in a puddle on the floor in a desperate bid to put out the flames.
She died in hospital nearly three weeks later after major organ failure.
A postmortem found the only area of her body free from burns were the soles of her feet and concluded she had died from 'widespread full thickness burns'.
Her mother's ashes, along with caskets containing the remains of seven pet cats, a shotgun and three cartridges and £8,400 in cash inside a plastic bag, were found inside the burnt out car by fire crews.
But a coroner said it was unclear whether Ms Grainger, who had no history of mental illness or social services involvement, had intended to kill herself.
Over the three years following her mother's death, Ms Grainger was paid a total of £41,134 in state pension, disability living allowance and pension credit.
She also received an annual £9,000 carer's allowance.
Fire investigator Garry Warren said it was fortunate the Dorset house fire had not spread to the ten-storey art deco block above or to an adjacent petrol station.
Around 150 residents of the Grade II-listed block on Marylebone Road, where flats sell for up to £1 million, were evacuated after smoke started to fill the lobby but they were later allowed to return.
Mr Warren told the court the car park's sprinkler system had activated and confined damage to the inside of Ms Grainger's car.