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Fatal flat fire probably caused by tumble dryer, inquest told

A flat fire which killed two men was likely to have been caused by a tumble dryer, an investigator has told an inquest.

Bernard Hender, 19, and Doug McTavish, 39, died following the blaze at the flat in Llanrwst, North Wales, on October 10 2014.

Mr Hender's partner Garry Lloyd Jones, 50, told an inquest at Abergele Town Hall he saw flames coming out of the drum of the Hotpoint tumble dryer before he escaped the blaze at the flat.

Fire investigator Paul Jenkinson said the fire had originated in or around the dryer in the laundry room of the flat, on Ancaster Square.

He said the exact cause was not established by the fire service but could have been a fault with the machine.

He said: "It could be a range of things related to the tumble dryer that were not investigated by the fire service."

US firm Whirlpool, which is represented at the inquest, has warned owners to unplug their machines after a potential fire risk was identified in Hotpoint, Creda and Indesit models manufactured between 2004 and 2015.

Dominic Adamson, representing Whirlpool, suggested the blaze may have been started by an iron which was left plugged in in the room.

Mr Jenkinson said: "The majority of indicators indicate the most likely cause was in the vicinity of the tumble dryer, however I could not categorically rule out the possibility of the iron."

Funeral director Mr Lloyd Jones, who lived with the two men, said on the evening of October 9 2014 he and Mr Hender had eaten a meal at The Tannery restaurant and when they returned home after about 12.30am Mr McTavish was in bed.

He told the inquest he saw the tumble dryer with the machine door open and some towels from the restaurant halfway out of it.

When he woke at 6am the following morning the flat was filled with smoke, he said.

He said: "I just remember walking down the corridor to see what was going on and seeing flames coming out of the tumble dryer ."

Mr Lloyd Jones said when he first saw the flames they were coming out of the drum of the machine and were about 18 inches high.

He said: "I went back to the bedroom but the smoke had increased.

"It was getting thicker and thicker and I just started shouting for Doug and knocking on the door saying 'get out there's a fire'."

He added : "I went to the bed and I grabbed Bernie's wrist and I pulled him and shouted 'come on the house is on fire, get up'.

"He was in total shock and he pulled from me.

"I said 'get to the floor' because you could see the smoke was less dense on the floor. I said 'dive to the floor'.

"He said 'I can't find the door' and he just screamed and that was the last I heard of him."

Mr Lloyd Jones told the inquest he managed to crawl out of the flat and phone the emergency services from outside.

Assistant coroner David Lewis said the hearing would try to establish whether the tumble dryer was the cause of the blaze.

The hearing is due to last three days and expert witnesses are expected to give evidence about the dryer on Thursday.

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