Staffordshire's Chief Fire Officer has stated that a fatal fire in the Staffordshire Moorlands last week could have and should have been prevented.
"The cottage had very basic amenities and the living conditions really weren’t suitable for two vulnerable elderly men. This incident could easily have been prevented if modern cooking facilities were in place."
A fire investigation has established that the fire in Sheen, near Longnor was caused accidentally.
A 78 year old man died in the fire which occurred on Monday 8th February. The incident caused extensive damage to the stone built cottage where the man lived with his brother. The man was found under the rubble of the building on Thursday afternoon.
Fire Investigation Officer, Brian Griffiths said: “The occupiers had no mains gas supply and so they relied on propane gas cylinders to power the cooker. We believe one of the cylinders was leaking and the gas drifted into the lounge where it came into contact with the open fire. This has caused an explosion, followed by a fire. Due to the damage caused by the explosion this was a complex and lengthy investigation. ”
Chief Fire Officer/Chief Executive Peter Dartford said “From what we can gather the two men refused care assistance and support from various agencies. That was there choice, but it is frustrating to know that support was available that would have prevented this tragedy.
“There was a similar case just a few weeks ago, in which an elderly lady from Wolstanton, Newcastle under Lyme, died in an accidental fire in her home. She too had refused support, up until the day of the fire, when a referral to the relevant agencies was made was made – unfortunately it was a day too late.
“It’s shocking to be reporting four fire deaths since the start of the year. People need to stop assuming that a fire will never happen to them or members of their family. If they don’t have the necessary protection in place it is only a matter of time. There is no excuse not to be protected, we offer a free home fire risk check to everyone living in Staffordshire – we would urge everyone to contact us and book a check for themselves or their elderly neighbours and relatives.
“I would be devastated if a loved one of mine needlessly died or was injured by a fire in their home, as I am sure everyone would be. Don’t allow that to happen – give us a call now!”
Peter added: “Many vulnerable people are wary of accepting help from organisations as they fear losing their independence or being rehoused. The reality is the Fire and Rescue Service, and other partners, are committed to exactly the opposite of this, we all want to assist people to live independently in comfort and safety in their own homes.”
Brian Griffiths has confirmed this morning’s post-mortem on the dead man concluded there were no suspicious circumstances.