Inquest verdict on pals who died in fire tragedy

TWO men who died in a Huthwaite house fire last year were overcome by smoke from a ‘slow, smouldering’ fire, an inquest was told.

Daniel Sadowyj (25) and Gareth Toye (22) died in a ‘tragic accident’ in the early hours of 2nd April 2011, just hours after returning to their Sutton Road home from a night out in Mansfield with friends.

An inquest into their deaths at Nottingham Coroner’s Court on Wednesday, was told that the fire was started by a cigarette being dropped down a settee.

Next-door neighbours Stuart and Sharon Macpherson woke up to find what they described in a statement read out in court, as a ‘foggy and misty atmosphere’ in their home.

After checking their own property, the Macphersons realised that the windows next-door were blacked out.

Stuart went round the back and opened the unlocked back door but could not get into the house because it was blocked.

He managed to get Gareth of the house and tried to resuscitate him, while Sharon phoned the emergency services.

Nottinghamshire coroner Mairin Casey praised the neighbours for their ‘nothing short of heroic’ actions, putting their own safety to one side to try and save life and warn other neighbours.

“What was a catastrophe could have been even worse if it was not for their intervention,” she said.

After arriving at the scene, firefighters used thermal imaging cameras and also discovered Daniel Sadowyj’s body in the property.

Both men had died at the scene and a post-mortem examination revealed that their cause of death was carbon monoxide poisoning and smoke inhalation.

Friend Jamie Haywood, who caught a taxi back from Mansfield with Gareth and Daniel, told the inquest that he had sat up chatting with Gareth before going home in the early hours.

He said that there was no electricity in the house and they lit a candle for some light.

He and Gareth, who were sitting on the two settees in the front room, were talking and drinking beer and Gareth was smoking cigarettes. When Jamie left at around 4.45am, everything was as it should be.

Station manager Glenn Mears, from Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service, who led the investigation into the cause of the fire, said that the fire originated in the front room of the house.

One of the settees had sustained severe burning on one side, while the rest of the furniture had sustained ‘top down’ burning, which occurs when the fire has hit the ceiling and then goes down into the room.

Station manager Mears said that no candle was found, and the evidence pointed to the blaze being a ‘slow, smouldering fire’ starting in the settee, in front of which the remains of an ashtray, cigarettes and a lighter were found.

He said that this type of fire can take up to four hours to burst into flames, in the meantime releasing hot gases, smoke and soot.

The property did not contain working smoke alarms which Station Manager Mears said would have given ‘an early warning’.

But he said the two men would not have had traumatic deaths.

“My understanding is that carbon monoxide puts you into a deeper sleep and you drift away,” he said.

Recording a verdict of accidental death, Miss Casey said that there were two safety messages to take from the case - the need for smokers to be careful putting out cigarettes properly and for working smoke alarms to be installed in properties to reduce the risk.

Speaking after the hearing, Natasha Toye-Sadowyj, Gareth’s sister and Daniel’s sister-in-law, said: “We all really miss the boys and think about them every day.

“No matter what information we have about what happened, it’s not going to make it any easier or bring them back.”