North West Wales

Llanrwst fatal fire: blaze started 'in or around dryer'

Doug McTavish and Bernard Hender
Image caption Doug McTavish and Bernard Hender died in the fire at the flat in Llanrwst

A flat fire in which two men died started "in or around the tumble dryer", a fire investigator has told an inquest.

Bernard Hender, 19, and Doug McTavish, 39, died in the blaze above a funeral director's office in Llanrwst, Conwy county, in October 2014.

The Abergele inquest is examining if a Hotpoint dryer caused the fire.

Fire investigator Paul Jenkinson said the exact cause of the ignition could not be established.

He said he had ruled out other possible causes, including an iron which was plugged in a utility room.

US parent firm Whirlpool had issued warnings to unplug some dryer models over potential fire fears.

Garry Lloyd Jones, 50, who lived in the flat, told the hearing on Wednesday the tumble dryer had been switched off when he went to bed the night before.

But when he woke at about 06:00 the following morning, the flat was filled with smoke.

Image caption Garry Lloyd Jones survived the blaze

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

"I went down to the living area and went to the kitchen and there was nothing there but when I looked out of the kitchen window I could see an orange glow."

He said the smoke was becoming thicker and he shouted for Mr McTavish to "get out".

He described trying to pull Mr Hender from his bed and telling him to "get to the floor" where the smoke was less dense.

"I said 'dive to the floor'," Mr Lloyd Jones told the inquest.

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

Notices had previously been issued by Whirlpool telling customers to unplug Hotpoint, Creda and Indesit models manufactured between 2004 and 2015 after a potential fire risk was identified.

Dominic Adamson said an expert report showed in this case coins, collar stiffeners, bits of plastic and lint were in the machine after the fire.

But Mr Lloyd Jones said he used to remove the lint from the filter regularly.

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

He added: "I am not interested, should it transpire the tumble dryer is implicated in some way... in trying to establish a precise failure.

"It is not the role of the coroner to set himself up as an engineering expert."

The hearing is continuing and is expected to last three days.