Four children killed in a house fire after parents ‘fell asleep while smoking in bed’

An inquiry has heard a discarded cigarette is suspected to be the cause of a house fire that claimed the lives of four young children in the UK.

In February 2019, BBC news confirmed that Riley John Holt, eight, Keegan Jonathan Unitt, six, Tilly Rose Unitt, four, and Olly Unitt, three, died from smoke inhalation during the fire in Stafford, central England.

Her mother, Natalie Unitt, and her husband, Christopher Moulton, and their young child, Jack, were able to escape the burning house.

The parents confirmed that the fire at the landing had begun in a boiler.

But the account was not accepted by Coroner Andrew Haigh, instead saying it was more likely that the fire was sparked by a lit cigarette left on the bedding of Unitt and Moulton.

Fire investigators think the parents of the children had been smoking in bed before falling asleep, the inquiry was told.

The parents had previously been told to stop smoking in the house by social workers, the investigation found.

“There was a significant number of carelessly discarded cigarettes in and around the property on the ground floor,” he said.

“Externally, outside the kitchen window there were in excess of 100 discarded cigarettes.

“Of significant note… within the recess of the left-hand [window] casement when looking from inside the lounge, there was a single discarded cigarette butt.

“That had not been stubbed out in my opinion and had been left to burn on its own.”

Richards said he believed the fire developed within the bedroom and “as it developed, the room went ‘full flashover’ – which is essentially where everything within the room becomes involved in fire.”

“It is my considered opinion that this fire was caused by carelessness with cigarettes,” he added.

Leave a Comment