Grieving Mother Appeals for Fire Safety Regulations Change; IF THEY'D BEEN IN RHYL IT MAY HAVE SAVED THEM, SAYS MUM

Article excerpt

Byline: DARREN DEVINE darren.devine@walesonline.co.uk

THE mother of a man killed in a horrific arson attack that claimed five members of the same family believes they might still be alive today had the burnt-out property been just four miles away.

Stephanie Watson, 45, says crucial fire safety rules enforced in Rhyl were not imposed just four miles down the road in Prestatyn, where her son Liam Timbrell, 23, perished in a blaze last October.

Under Denbighshire council rules, properties in Rhyl are classed as "houses in multiple-occupation (HMOs)" and subject to stringent fire safety measures if there are three or more adults living there.

But in Prestatyn and across the rest of Denbighshire the number of adults has to be five for the property to be classed as an HMO.

Denbighshire's HMOs must have electrical smoke alarms, a fire exit, windows big enough to escape from and fire doors.

Ms Watson says the three-storey house in Prestatyn where Mr Timbrell, 23, was killed along with partner Lee-Anna Shiers, 20, and their 15-month-old son Charlie, had none of these safety measures.

Though the property had smoke alarms they were battery powered rather than electrical.

Ms Watson now wants the Rhyl rule of three adults or more applied across Denbighshire, Wales and the UK after the blaze that also killed Lee-Anna's niece Skye, four, and nephew Bailey, three.

She said: "All of those features may have made a difference in saving their lives. "There were battery smoke detectors, but no fire doors, no fire exits and the windows weren't large enough for them to get out."

Last week Ms Watson, who runs a cafe in Devon with partner Andy Bell, told how she had to spare her son the full horror of the blaze in his dying moments.

As he fought for his life in intensive care, Ms Watson was warned by doctors not to tell her son of the death of his loved ones.

They feared that, with Mr Timbrell kept alive only with the aid of a ventilator and a kidney dialysis machine, he lacked the strength to survive the truth. …