North West Wales

Shock at Anglesey fire deaths of detective and her sons

Heather Bickley and sons Felix and Oscar
Image caption Heather Bickley and her sons Felix and Oscar

A community has been speaking of its shock after a police officer and her two young sons died in a bungalow fire.

Det Con Heather Bickley, 46, her sons Felix, 10 and Oscar, six, died in the fire in the early hours of Wednesday in Ty-y-Gongl, near Benllech, on Anglesey.

The boys' headmistress said the school was shocked and "trying cope as best we can", while a former colleague said the community was "very subdued".

The fire is not being treated as suspicious and investigations continue.

Neighbour Barry Richardson, who lives next door, said everything was quiet outside the houses just half an hour before.

An investigation into the cause of the fire is continuing.

Oscar's body was recovered almost immediately by fire crews, but Mrs Bickley and Felix's bodies were not found until Wednesday afternoon because the structure of the bungalow was too unsafe to enter following severe fire damage.

Mr Richardson, who has lived in the small settlement for 18 months, was outside his home just after midnight on Wednesday.

He told BBC Wales: "I was out here with the dog. It was really quiet, really still night.

"I went to bed and 25 minutes later the sky was alight, orange.

"There was crackling, we could hear the slates off the roof coming down."

The family had been woken by the fire service, and were told shortly afterwards by the father of one of the firefighter's that people had lost their lives.

"We were obviously devastated," Mr Richardson said.

"There's only six or seven houses, it's a little hamlet. They [the Bickleys] hadn't been here long but they were renovating their house just like we are, building a house.

"I don't know how to feel really."

Paying tribute, North Wales Police Chief Supt Mark Jones said Mrs Bickley was a "trusted, respected and experienced" officer who had served with the police since 1994.

She had worked in Bangor, Holyhead and Amlwch but, since 2000, had been involved in child protection with the force's public protection unit (PPU).

He said: "During her time with the PPU, Heather was an integral part of a dedicated team responsible for safeguarding children - a role she assumed with passion.

"Our thoughts are with her husband John and her family at this sad time.

"She and her children will be sorely missed by her friends, colleagues and members of the local community."

'Dear and likeable'

The boys' head teacher at Ysgol Goronwy Owen, Benllech, Ann Hughes, said the news had been a great shock and loss for the school.

"Our thoughts are of two very dear and likeable young boys, who have been taken from us in such tragic circumstances. Our deepest sympathy goes out to the family," she added.

The fire gutted the roof of the bungalow which then collapsed into the building.

Firefighters were called to the property at about 0050 BST by neighbours.

When they arrived the bungalow was well alight and two sets of breathing apparatus, two hosereel jets and a main jet were needed to extinguish the fire.

The cause of the fire is being jointly investigated by police and the fire service, but it is not believed to be suspicious at this stage.

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