The sale of furniture containing a flammable foam blamed for several fatal fires in recent years should be banned by mid-1999, an official said yesterday. The news came during an inquest into the death last year of a young family in a fire believed to have been fuelled by a foam mattress. Coroner Ian Thomas heard that in the afternoon of March 21 last year, fire broke out in the family's Cypress House, Sha Tin, flat. Wan Yuk-chun, 21, and her husband, Lai Kin-ping, 23, were resting in a bedroom with their two-year-old son, Lai Wai-lung. Dense smoke engulfed the unit and all three died later in hospital either of burns or smoke inhalation. Mr Thomas said the cause of the fire was unclear, and recorded a verdict of accidental death. Government chemist Cheung Yiu-ming said polyurethane foam in the mattress was partly to blame. Trade and Industry Bureau principal assistant secretary, Eddie Poon Tai-ping, said a ban on flammable foam was in the pipeline.