Llanrwst flat fire which killed two men not caused by tumble dryer fault, experts tell inquest

Reporter:

Staff Reporter

A flat fire which killed two men could not have been started by an electrical fault in a tumble dryer, experts for the machine's manufacturers have told an inquest.

Bernard Hender, 19, and Doug McTavish, 39, both died following the fire at their flat in Llanrwst, North Wales, in October 2014.

Mr Hender's partner Garry Lloyd Jones, 50, had described seeing flames coming from the Hotpoint tumble dryer before he escaped the blaze.

An inquest into the deaths was adjourned in April and resumed at Ruthin County Hall on Tuesday.

It heard the fire may have been started by an electrical fault in the door switch of the machine.

However fire investigation experts John Loud and Dr Delmar Morrison, instructed by US firm Whirlpool which owns Hotpoint, said there was no power going to the dryer at the time of the fatal blaze and therefore it could not have been the cause.

Mr Loud said: "The dryer does not have any evidence of untoward electrical activity."

He said examination of the machine's timer switch showed it was off at the time of the blaze.

Mr Loud told the court it was a "remote, obscure theoretical possibility" that the fire could have started in a dryer which was not running at the time.

Whirlpool had warned owners to unplug their machines after a potential fire risk was identified in Hotpoint, Creda and Indesit models manufactured between 2004 and 2015.

The inquest has heard that since 2008 there have been 36 incidents involving tumble dryers made by Whirlpool where a fault with the door switch had not been ruled out.

Harry Lambert, representing the families of Mr Hender and Mr McTavish, said three experts had drawn the conclusion the tumble dryer caused the blaze.

He said: "The experts instructed by Whirlpool are the only experts who formed an opposite view."

Mr Loud and Dr Morrison said the cause of the fire was "undetermined" but possible explanations included electrical faults in the light fitting or iron or the spontaneous combustion of towels with vegetable oil residue on.

Mr Loud said photos of damage to parts of the door switch did not prove the fire started there.

He said: "All of the images are not consistent with electrical cause, they are consistent with fire attack."

The fire at the flat, on Ancaster Square, broke out in the early hours of the morning on October 10, 2014.

In evidence to the inquest in April, funeral director Mr Lloyd Jones said he had woken to find smoke in the flat and seen flames 18 inches high coming from the dryer in the laundry room.

The inquest had been expected to conclude on Wednesday, but assistant coroner for North East Wales David Lewis said he now expected to return a verdict at a later date.

Leave your comment

Share your opinions on

Characters left: 1500

Most Read