Father and daughter aged seven killed in house blaze

Ian Herbert,North
Friday 27 December 2002 01:00
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A house fire killed a father and his seven-year-old daughter in Grimsby, Lincolnshire, early on Christmas Day.

Three generations of the family were trapped when the three-storey house caught fire. An unrelated boy, 14, jumped from a second-floor attic window to the roof of a caravan below, sustaining minor head injuries.

When firefighters arrived, they found four people unconscious ­ the father, 45, his daughter, a woman, 34, and a girl, 14. The woman and girl were recovering yesterday at the Hull Royal Infirmary. A couple in their late fifties or early sixties received treatment at Grimsby's Diana Princess of Wales hospital for smoke inhalation.

Humberside Police believe the house was fitted with smoke alarms but that the batteries may have been removed from some of them. The fire is not being treated as suspicious. It is thought that a discarded cigarette may have been the cause.

Police wearing white boiler suits were picking their way through the shell of the front of the property yesterday.

Richard Craig, the next-door neighbour, fought the flames with a hosepipe and managed to get into the house. He said he had been woken by a huge bang followed by screams for help from thehouse.

"There was someone shouting for help," Mr Craig said. "I looked out of the window and there was just loads of smoke and flames. It was all coming from one room, the lounge on the ground floor."

He ran downstairs to assess what was going on, dashed back to his house to telephone for help, then returned with his hosepipe. "I put the nozzle of the hosepipe in the window and aimed it at the flames," he said. "It was then the fire-fighters turned up."

Mr Craig said he believed the shouts had come from someone leaning out of a window, possibly the boy who jumped from the attic ­ a friend of the teenage girl who was staying for Christmas. "I had no idea there were still people inside at that point," he said. "The lounge was well alight but there were no screams then. I just wish there was more I could have done."

Mr Craig, who had lived next to the property for four years, said he did not know the family well but had found them to be good neighbours. The family were said to have been at the property since August and were carrying out improvements to it. They had been offered help only a few days ago after they had had Christmas lights stolen from outside the house.

Mr Craig said he removed members of his family from his own home, including his baby son, while he fought the flames next door. "I just feel sick. That's certainly the end of our Christmas," he said.

The house was partly gutted with thick black scorch marks up the front façade, windows smashed and charred debris, including children's toys, strewn across the front garden.

¿ A man aged 79 died in a fire at a farmhouse in Wales early yesterday. Firefighters from the Mid and West Wales Fire Service were called to the farmhouse on the outskirts of Llansawel, Carmarthenshire, at 4am. By the time they arrived, the fire was "well alight" and the roof had collapsed, a spokeswoman said.

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