KEY POINTS

  • Mother, partner and their two-year-old son escaped the blaze
  • Parents told the inquest that the fire had started on the landing
  • The lead investigator suspects carelessness with cigarettes

A tragic house fire that killed four young children in Stafford, UK last year probably started from a carelessly discarded cigarette, an inquest was heard, reported BBC.

The blaze of fire killed four young children aged three, four, six and eight at their home on Feb.5, 2019. The children’s mother Natalie Unitt and her partner Chris Moulton escaped the fire blaze along with their two-year-old son Jack.

Riley John Holt, Keegan Jonathan Unitt, Tilly Rose Unitt and Olly Unitt, were pronounced dead after their bodies were found inside the two-storey end terrace house in Sycamore Lane, Stafford.

The children’s mother and her partner were arrested after the incident on suspicion of manslaughter. The police later informed that they will not be taking any action against the parents.

fire The lead fire investigator told that there were a significant number of carelessly discarded cigarettes in and around the property Photo: pixabay

Natalie Unitt, the mother, told the inquest on Thursday that she could not remember what she did after the fire broke out and she was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. She also said that she believed the fire started on the landing.

Moulton, the father of three of the children, told the hearing that the fire had initially started on the landing of the property, probably from the boiler, reported Shropshire star.

Leigh Richards, the lead investigator of West Midlands Fire Service, was among the five witnesses called by the coroner. He disputed the parent’s argument that the fire started on the landing.

“The fire in my opinion developed within the bedroom and as it developed, the room went ‘full flashover’ – which is essentially where everything within the room becomes involved in fire.” He told.

Richards told the inquest that there were a significant number of carelessly discarded cigarettes in and around the property.  He said that his investigation ruled out ‘all sources other than carelessness with smoking materials’. He also detailed that they found a glass piece consistent with an ashtray melted into the springs of a mattress in the bedroom.

Coroner Andrew Haigh did not accept Moulton’s claim that the fire had started on the landing from the boiler. Haigh pointed out that Moulton also could not remember how he had suffered burns to his hands before escaping from a bedroom window.

The inquest was also told that the couple had previously been advised by social care to stop smoking inside the house.