Farmhouse fire which killed family remains mystery, inquest hears
An investigator said there were a number of possibilities as to what caused the blaze in Llangammarch Wells, Powys.
An investigation into a farmhouse fire which killed a father and his five children failed to find what caused the blaze, an inquest has heard.
Dave Cuthbertson, 68, died in the fire alongside children Just Raine, 11, Reef Raine, 10, Misty Raine, nine, Patch Raine, six, and Gypsy Grey Raine, four.
On Monday an inquest into their deaths heard the blaze broke out near or inside the property’s lounge, though the extent of the damage meant “nothing specific” was found to reveal what caused it.
But a fire investigator listed a number of objects found in the ruins of Poityn Farm in Llangammarch Wells, Powys, including cigarette lighters, candle holders, and hundreds of metres of electrical wires which had been “daisy-chained”.
Richard Hancock, manager of the fire investigation team Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue, told the inquest at Welshpool Town Hall: “We found cigarette lighters, candle holders, and quite a lot of electric wiring. Hundreds of metres of different cables with socket extension blocks.
“They were being so-called daisy chained, which is not the best practice in the world.”
Mr Hancock explained the extension blocks could overheat and ignite if they are added to an original block.
He said: “Given the degree of destruction in the room of origin and accounts placing the fire in the ground floor lounge, it was very difficult to identify one particular item as being the cause of the fire.”
But Mr Hancock added: “Electricity does still remain a possible cause of ignition.”
Roger Smith, crew manager of the Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service appliance which first responded to the emergency, said firefighters were unable to enter the property due to a combination of extreme heat and risk of collapse.
Mr Smith said: “The property was fully on fire. I noticed all the windows were blackened. On the left hand side the windows were broken.
“There was enormous radiated heat coming from the windows.
“The roof had fallen through and there were signs of collapse at the property.”
Mr Smith said firefighters were not able to enter the farmhouse as it was deemed too dangerous due to the heat and the risk of collapse.
Mr Smith said: “The roof was going as well and items were falling down.
“The property was fully ablaze. You couldn’t make out any of the external structure of the property.
“It was incredibly hot. You couldn’t go anywhere near the windows. Where they were broken the blast of heat was intense.
“To the right hand side you couldn’t approach the window or get within a couple feet of it.
“It was not safe to enter from the heat point of view and also from collapse as well.”
He added: “At that time we had no idea of the location of the occupants of the property. There were no signs of life.
“I heard no fire alarms at all. The fire was fully developed so I imagine the heat in the property would have melted them.”
The inquest was told Mr Cuthbertson had been at home with eight of his children when the blaze broke out around midnight on October 30 last year.
Three of his young children, Leaf, Blue and Farr, managed to escape the fire and alert emergency services.
Coroner Andrew Barkley is hearing evidence at the inquest before he records the family members’ cause of death later on Monday.
The inquest continues.