Jury sees images of devastating fire

Chief fire investigator Rick Percival
Chief fire investigator Rick Percival
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Crime scene photos detailing the devastating consequences of a fire which claimed the lives of four siblings have been shown to a jury.

Preston Crown Court heard the fire that claimed the lives of Reece Smith, 19, his twin sisters Ella and Holly, four and baby brother Jordan, two, in a home in Freckleton had started in a wooden wardrobe in a bedroom inches away from where some of the children were sleeping.

Family friend Dyson Allen, 19, who is accused of starting the blaze at the bungalow in Lytham Road, on January 7 last year, denies four counts of murder and four counts of manslaughter.

Yesterday, a jury made up of eight men and four women heard evidence from the chief fire investigator Rick Percival, who talked them through how the fire spread. Using a collection of crime scene photos, he said the flames spread to the cotton garments hanging from plastic coat-hangers before falling and gathering in a heap at the bottom of the wardrobe.

Mr Percival told the court the fire was able to spread more quickly because the left door of the wardrobe had been open at 90 degrees.

The fire continued to spread through the clothing and out through the open door, which eventually burnt away two of the wardrobe doors three hinges and forcing the other to give way.

Mr Percival said: “The development of the fire was significantly helped by the door being open.

“If the door had been closed the Oxygen supply would have been restricted and it is highly likely the fire would have burnt out.”

As the flames continued raging the smoke and gases built up and gathered in the ceiling space.

Mr Percival estimated that the temperature of the blaze reached between 200 and 300 degrees at its height consuming all synthetic 
materials in its path and causing the windows to crack.

Plaster on the ceiling even began to melt forming pools of hot lava on the carpet, Mr Percival said.

Prosecutors added that one of the children had suffered severe burns to her feet.

The court was also told that despite the ferociousness of the blaze, smoke had not made its way downstairs alerting others in the property to the fire.


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