Dangers of tumble dryers highlighted after inquest into Llanrwst fire

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The potential dangers of tumble dryers are being highlighted following the conclusion of an inquest into the tragic flat fire in Llanrwst on Friday 10th October 2014 which claimed the lives of two men.

At the inquest into the incident held today (Friday 1st September), Assistant Coroner David Lewis recorded a narrative conclusion, in which he decided an electrical fault in the door of a Hotpoint tumble dryer was the most likely cause of the fire. He found that it was more likely than all other theories put forward by experts combined.

Bernard Hender, 19, died at the scene of the incident and Douglas McTavish, 39, died later in hospital following the fire in a flat above a Funeral Directors on Ancaster Square, Llanrwst.

Emergency services were called to the first floor flat at 06.30hrs, including five fire appliances from Llanrwst, Conwy, Colwyn Bay and Llandudno together with an aerial ladder platform from Rhyl.

A third man, Gary Lloyd Jones, 48, escaped from the incident and suffered smoke inhalation.

A subsequent joint investigation carried out by North Wales Fire and Rescue Service and North Wales Police identified that the fire had been caused by a fire involving a tumble dryer. Further investigations conducted through a specialist appointment by an insurance company identified a potential fault with the tumble dryer.

Speaking after the inquest, Paul Jenkinson from North Wales Fire and Rescue Service said:

“Firstly, I would once again like to convey our condolences and deepest sympathy to the friends and families involved in this tragic incident. Sadly, this incident demonstrated that fire can strike anyone at any time.

“The conclusion of this inquest today has highlighted concerns surrounding the safety of tumble dryers. 

“Our own statistics show that we are called to deal with fires involving tumble dryers on average between two and three times a month.

"The inquest drew attention to compelling expert forensic science evidence that suggested the cause of the fire was an electrical fault in the tumble dryer’s door switch.

“Our advice to the public is to follow the manufacturer instructions and to take these simple precautions to help maintain tumble dryer safety;

  • DON’T put the machine on when you are in bed or not at home
  • DON’T overload the machine
  • DON’T put the timer on for too long
  • DO clean the filter regularly
  • DO allow the dryer to complete its cycle or remove the clothes and spread them out to allow the heat to escape
  • DO turn the appliance off when not in use – put the timer off.

“And I would re-emphasise just how important it really is to make sure you have a smoke alarm. There were no smoke alarms fitted in this Llanrwst property - time and time again we see first-hand how installing and maintaining a smoke alarm could mean the difference between life and death in the event of a fire. A working smoke alarm can buy you valuable time to get out, stay out and dial 999 for help. For a free home safety check call 0800 169 1234 or visit www.nwales-fireservice.org.uk .”

Following the inquest today, there will be 14 days for correspondence from interested persons on whether the coroner should serve a prevention of future deaths report. The coroner will also be writing to Whirlpool about concerns he has about action they take over evidence gathered in the field.

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