North West Wales

Llanrwst fatal fire: Dryer 'not ruled out' as cause

Fire damage at the property

A tumble dryer could "not be ruled out" as the cause of a flat fire in which two men died, an inquest has heard.

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.

On Thursday, a fire engineer told the hearing there was "no compelling evidence" it started in the dryer but he could not rule it out.

Clifford Christie, a member of the Institute of Fire Engineers, was asked to look into the cause of the fire by domestic appliance company Whirlpool.

Giving evidence on the second day of the hearing, he said the dryer was "severely damaged" by fire but some components on the machine were intact.

Mr Christie said he was "satisfied" it had not started in the timer, the motor or the drum, and there was no accumulation of lint in the machine.

But he said he could not rule out that it started in the machine's starter switch, which was not recovered following the blaze.

He also told the hearing it was possible there was a fault in an iron kept in the same room.

He said evidence given to the inquest on Wednesday that the iron was switched off might have been "mistaken".

Image caption Doug McTavish and Bernard Hender died in the fire at the flat in Llanrwst
Image caption Garry Lloyd Jones survived the blaze

The former director of global product safety for Whirlpool, Larry Latack, told the inquest the fire had not triggered a "substantial hazard" incident within the company.

Mr Latack, who retired from the company last year but who is now a consultant, confirmed that between 2009 and the fatal fire in 2014, there had been 28 reports of fires in which the same type of door switch was implicated or had not been ruled out.

"We don't go into panic," he said. "Whirlpool dryers complete one billion cycles every 12 days."

He added that tests were ongoing and the company always looked for problems to protect the consumer.

'Orange glow'

On Wednesday, a tenant who lived in the flat spoke of surviving the fire.

Garry Lloyd Jones, 50, told the inquest: "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."

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.

The inquest continues.

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