Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 July 2014

'Immense' heat foiled blaze rescue

Lee-Anna Shiers, 20, who was one of the five victims killed in a house fire in Prestatyn, North Wales

Neighbours of a family that died when a fire tore through their flat have told a jury how fierce heat and flames defeated their rescue efforts.

Lee-Anna Shiers, 20, her four-year-old nephew Bailey and two-year-old niece Skye died in the alleged arson attack at her home in North Wales on October 19.

Firefighters managed to rescue Ms Shiers' 15-month-old son Charlie and his father, Liam Timbrell, 23, from their first-floor flat but they both later died in hospital.

Melanie Smith, 42, who lived in the flat below the victims in Maes y Groes, Prestatyn, is accused of deliberately setting fire to a push chair because she was angry that Ms Shiers had left it in a shared hallway. She denies five counts of murder.

In evidence read to the jury, former police officer Peter Bailey, who lived across the street from the scene, said he was watching television with his wife, Lynda, when the alarm was raised.

"I heard three loud bangs. It was like car doors which were being banged continuously," he said.

"The next thing I became aware of was when my wife shouted that a house over the road was on fire. I ran across to the fire. The front door was a ring of fire and black smoke was billowing out. The heat was intense and the fire was raging, it was well alight."

Mr Bailey ran to the back of the property where he climbed on to the flat roof of a ground floor extension. He was joined there by another man, now known to be Steve Clarkson, the partner of Smith.

The witness said: "Once there on the flat roof I couldn't reach the window above me. The male said he had a ladder and he went to get it and passed it up to me.

"I put the ladder against the wall with the intention of going into the flat. I climbed to the top and put my hand against the window and felt the heat coming out. There was no way I could go in, smoke was billowing out and the heat was immense."

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